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Valencia locks up league title

League winning streak now at 80

Posted: April 30, 2009 10:19 p.m.
Updated: May 1, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Valencia's Josh Duarte (32) spikes the ball over Canyon's Michael Edwards Thursday at Valencia High. Beating the Cowboys 3-1, the Vikings locked up the Foothill League championship.

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Valencia locked up its ninth consecutive boys volleyball title Thursday with a 3-1 win over Canyon at home.

The Vikings (14-8, 8-0) won by scores of 25-16, 25-15, 28-30 and 25-16, and also extended their league winning streak to 80 games.

“We want to keep the streak going as long as possible,” said senior John Souisa. “It’s good to keep our focus, and we’re going to stay focused in every game we play.”

The match was close early in the first set, but Canyon (10-13, 4-4) was unable to build a lead greater than one point before Valencia went to work on building a 19-11 cushion.

The Cowboys struggled to keep the ball in play and away from the long Valencia front line as the Vikings took the set by nine.

“I think we got a little caught up with the refs and didn’t play our game in the beginning,” said Canyon head coach Brian Ingino. “We thrive off having fun on the court, and I don’t think we were using the positive energy that we usually do in the first couple of sets.”

The second set was more of the same as Valencia rolled to a 10-point win, capped by a spike by Souisa.

Still, Canyon continued to battle, fighting off three match points before taking the third game 30-28.

“Our middles adjusted in the third,” Ingino said. “We started passing better and just got back to having fun and playing the game the way we like to.”

The Cowboys’ charge was not enough to rattle the elite Foothill League program as Valencia bounced back to take the final set easily.

“We took three sets pretty decisively,” said Valencia head coach Mark Knudsen. “We have come out a little flat in the beginning of some matches, but today we brought a really good effort from the start. We let the third set slip away, but our guys got right back out there.”

The Vikings were led by 17 kills from Broc Oppler, 11 from Daniel Johnson and 10 from Souisa. Steven Crane chipped in 28 assists and four blocks, and Valencia got 20 digs from Nick Ferry and 13 from Jason Halliday.

Canyon was paced by 14 kills from co-captain Matt Veiga and 34 assists from co-captain Alex Reeves. Curtis Van Grinsven also notched eight kills and three blocks.

“Everything that Canyon needed to improve on from the first time we saw them, they have improved,” Knudsen said. “They have improved their passing, and they have a very solid middle now.”

While Valencia can enjoy another league crown, the next week will be pivotal for Canyon. The Cowboys have a key match on Tuesday against Hart before closing up against Golden Valley.

“We kind of came into this season with the attitude that no one really expected much from us,” Ingino said. “We’ve been able to stay relaxed, and now we’re at a point when we have a shot at the playoffs. This next week should be exciting.”

kdamore@the-signal.com

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