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The Guardian: Souisa upheld Valencia’s legacy

Experience, talent and leadership pay off

Posted: June 17, 2009 8:27 p.m.
Updated: June 18, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Valencia had won 72 consecutive matches entering this season, claiming eight straight Foothill League titles in the process.

The Vikings also won a national championship last spring, in addition to their fourth CIF-Southern Section Division II championship of the decade.

But graduation wiped out most of the roster responsible for those accomplishments.

The Valencia boys volleyball program needed someone to guard its tradition.

Senior co-captain Jon Souisa took up the mantle.

The Signal’s 2009 All-Santa Clarita Valley Boys Volleyball Player of the Year was a dominant force, sending home thunderous kills and putting up a wall at the net with his blocking.

Most importantly, Souisa led by example as team co-captain, showing the young Vikings what it took to fend off the Foothill League’s best shots game in and game out.

He knew because he had seen it before.

Souisa saw a decent amount of time off the bench in 2008 — not a bad feat on a team that sent its top seven players to NCAA Division I programs.

That playing time, coupled with watching those college-bound players up close, turned Souisa into just the leader the 2009 Vikings were looking for.

When Valencia was pushed to the limit in its Foothill League opener against rival Hart, Souisa led the team in kills, including a devastating spike to end the game.

Souisa led the team in that category in most games, but even then, the Valencia attack was always balanced. Nobody had to shoulder the entire load.

As a result, the Vikings were able to shoulder the load of expectations all season.

They finished the Foothill League schedule unscathed, running their league winning streak to 82 matches, and claimed the program’s ninth straight league championship.

Souisa’s blocking also guarded the net against opposing players just like he guarded the Valencia program.

In the end, the Vikings fell one game short of the CIF-Southern Section semifinals for the first time since 2000.

It was an impressive streak that had to come to an end sooner or later, given the boys volleyball talent in Southern California.

But the Vikings will return a squad laden with talent that learned from Souisa’s example. The program is in position to do big things again next year.

The tradition is safe.

jgulino@the-signal.com

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