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Valencia v-ball wins league again

Posted: November 5, 2013 10:44 p.m.
Updated: November 5, 2013 10:44 p.m.

The Valencia High girls volleyball team celebrates after winning the match against West Ranch at Valencia High on Tuesday.

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No matter the circumstances, Valencia High girls volleyball has set a standard for itself.

And even with a team of mostly sophomores and juniors who came into the season with some concerns, that standard of best in the Foothill League never left.

Those sophomores and juniors convincingly beat the senior-laden West Ranch Wildcats 3-0 (25-19, 25-22, 25-12) on Tuesday at Valencia High in a winner-take-all match for the Foothill championship.

The Vikings (20-12 overall, 9-1 Foothill League) won league for the 11th time in 12 years in front of a large, energetic crowd.

“I’ve never had a team where I thought, ‘If we finish second or third that’s OK. That’s not OK with us,” said Valencia head coach Ray Sanchez.

And for the second season in a row, West Ranch (11-5, 8-2) came into the season finale with a chance to win league but instead lost to Valencia.

“When I stepped up to the serve line and it was match point, I just thought, ‘This is actually happening. This team is actually going to win league,” said Valencia junior Lindsey Knudsen.

And that serve led to a match-winning kill by Jessie Rodriguez, one of two seniors on the team.

Knudsen's 21 kills and 17 digs set the tone for the Vikings and made a strong case for a league player of the year bid.

Despite the Wildcats rolling extra blockers in front of her, Knudsen was nearly unstoppable as a hitter.

“What happened to us was two things,” said West Ranch head coach Gerrit Maxwell. “A ton of unforced hitting errors and Lindsey Knudsen.”

Makena Lautner also came up big for Valencia, dropping in 11 kills, 14 digs and four aces.

The Vikings served and hit accurately, which was contrasted by an inconsistent effort by the Wildcats.

The match played out in similar fashion to Valencia’s 3-1 win over West Ranch on Oct. 16.

Since then, these two teams seemed to be on a collision course to the league finale that would decide the league champion.

The match was given even more meaning after Valencia lost 3-2 to Hart last week, making both teams tied for first place coming into the day.

Much like 2012 though, West Ranch will have to settle for a second place finish in the Foothill.

Valencia won a close game one and held off a furious comeback to win the second game, despite a late 8-1 run by West Ranch to cut the Vikings’ lead to 23-22.

Two kills by Knudsen ended the threat.

After that, Valencia quickly ran away in game three by opening up a 7-0 to lead, all with Lautner serving.

Hayley Alvarez had 37 assists for Valencia.

For West Ranch, Alexis Clewis led with 12 kills.

“Life does go on,” Maxwell said. “The sun is going to come up tomorrow and we’re going to go to practice.”

Both teams are already assured playoff spots. Brackets will be released by the CIF on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.

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