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Indians give their best shot

Valencia volleyball withstands Hart’s early and late assaults

Posted: April 23, 2009 9:28 p.m.
Updated: April 24, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Valencia boys volleyball extended its Foothill League winning streak to 78 matches, but it was anything but easy.

The Vikings dropped the first set and were pushed to the brink in the fourth by Hart in a 3-1 (20-25, 25-14, 25-20, 26-24) win on the Indians’ floor Thursday.

“There was a good energy in the gym,” said Valencia head coach Mark Knudsen. “Their fans knew that Hart had a lot riding on this match. They had the chance to really put themselves in a position where they could have a shot at first in the league, and both teams played really well.”

Hart opened with an inspired first frame, fueled by a rowdy crowd. The Indians snagged an early 9-4 lead and maintained it through the rest of the set.

The Vikings (9-6, 6-0) quickly showed their championship form, though, answering with the only clearly decisive set of the night to even the count.

“We were right there for most of the match,” said Hart head coach Mary Krisan. “We are a younger team so sometimes we have a tough time capitalizing on our opportunities and finishing. We had leads, but we just didn’t quite execute like we can.”

One opportunity that slipped away for the Indians (8-8, 3-3) came in the third set. The Indians jumped out to a 6-2 lead, but Valencia rallied and finished by taking nine of the final 13 points, including a Josh Duarte block for the win.

“We never doubted ourselves,” said Valencia libero Nick Ferry. “Coach Knudsen never loses faith in us, and that gives us the confidence we need to come back and win.”

The final set was an epic with 10 ties and a spread never greater than three points. Daniel Johnson ended the match with a spike that Hart was unable to return inbounds, setting off a raucous celebration for the Vikings.

“After that first set I told our guys that we were going to go out and win the next three,” Knudsen said. “Our passing got better, and we started serving smarter. We locked into not allowing any free points.”

Shane Nazarian led the Vikings with 38 assists, and Ferry added 25 digs. John Souisa paced Valencia with 12 kills.
“Valencia just does not get phased,” Krisan said. “We played really well overall, and we got a lot out of the strong arms of Taylor (Gregory) and J.J. (Mosolf), but they found ways to win.”

Gregory topped the Indians in both kills and blocks with 13 of each, while Andrew Uberstine chipped in 10 kills and Trevor Hall knocked home nine. Mosolf was the Hart leader in blocks with five.

kdamore@the-signal.com

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