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Valencia V-ball licks its wounds

Posted: April 23, 2008 2:46 a.m.
Updated: June 24, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Valencia varsity volleyball player Derrick Trent sets the ball in the game against Hart on Tuesday. The Vikings defeated the Indians in three straight games.

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The Valencia boys volleyball team rarely loses.

In fact it only has two losses on the year, but one happened to come in one of its most recent matches.

However, it wasn't Tuesday night against Foothill League rival Hart. It was Saturday afternoon in the finals of the Karch Kiraly Tournament of Champions in Santa Barbara as the Vikings fell to Newport Harbor for only their second loss of the year.

Tuesday night, though, it was back to business as usual for the seven-time defending Foothill champs as the Vikings (20-2, 7-0) rolled past Hart in three games, 25-19, 25-14, 25-19 at Valencia High.

Coming into the match, Valencia's goal was a simple one following its second championship game defeat in a major tournament this season.

"We just wanted to win tonight," said Valencia head coach Mark Knudsen.

And win the Vikings did, led by a cast of regulars and reserves as Skyler Seymour and Jon Griffith, both starters, didn't play due to various circumstances.

In the absence of two of their bigger hitters, Jim Baughman, who was named to the Karch Kiraly All-Tournament team over the weekend, led the Vikings with 11 kills and three aces.

The Vikings, however, were still stinging from a five-game finals loss to Newport Harbor in the tournament.

Valencia fell behind 2-0 to Newport, but battled back to win the next two, setting up a deciding fifth game.

"We went into the match really excited to play a big match but we just came out slow," said Viking Jamey Ker. "We made some dumb errors in games one and two, and then they came back in the fifth game again. We have our expectations set so high and to not fulfill them is a bummer."

After marching through the first three rounds of the tournament, Valencia ran into a team that was well prepared and evenly matched.

"We actually came out very, very tight," Knudsen said of the final match against Newport Harbor. "Both teams scored 38 points and the total points in the match was 105 to 103, so we lost by two sideouts. We played steady the whole time but just came up literally a little bit short."

Coming up just a bit short, however, left the Vikings once again searching for a big-time tournament title to add to their 2008 resume.

Earlier this year, Valencia fell to Santa Barbara in the Best in the West Tournament championship.

"We made it to the championship game and we didn't finish it again," Baughman said. "I don't know why we can't finish it. We have another tournament this weekend with a chance to redeem ourselves and we will. We are done losing."

The Vikings took the first step to back up Baughman's words by winning Tuesday night against the Hart Indians.
Valencia started slow, but used strong reserve play to sweep past Hart.

"The team was a little slow from the tournament," said Valencia's Jon Souisa. "We played a lot of seniors up there so it was nice to get some juniors and a sophomore in."

Souisa benefited the most getting some playing time and turning in a solid four kill performance to lead all bench players.

"I was just looking to prove myself," Souisa said. "I haven't played a lot so it was nice to get some playing time and show what I can do."

The rest of the team played as its usual self led by Eric Miyamoto, who finished with eight kills, while Derrik Trent finished with seven.

"We didn't have a lot of choice (in who to play) having two players out so I just wanted to see if we could play cohesive and we did," Knudsen said.

The Vikings now turn their attention to the rest of the season, still searching for their first championship of the season.

That first title could come in the form of the Foothill League championship, which will be theirs for an eighth straight season if they defeat Saugus on Thursday.

"We've moved on from that (Karch Kiraly tournament)," Ker said. "We need to focus on our league and just let that match go and concentrate on the teams we will play from here on out."

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