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Heavy hitters

Top-ranked team dominates All-SCV squad

Posted: July 4, 2008 12:20 a.m.
Updated: September 4, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Valencia outside hitter and Signal Boys Volleyball Player of the Year Jim Baughman launches a hit recently at Del Monte Recreation Park.

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As the top-ranked team in the United States, Valencia did not particularly have one superstar hitter who far outplayed the rest.

The Vikings had one hitter after another, some even coming off the bench, who wore out opposing teams often enough on their way to winning the CIF Southern Section Division II Boys Volleyball championship match.

Rivals.com ranked Valencia as the No. 1 team in the nation, which is where they began in the preseason. A 36-2 season was wrapped up by a four-game win over Santa Barbara in the title game.

Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach, who lost to Valencia, was ranked No. 2.

"Statistically, I don't think we've ever had a better team," Valencia boys volleyball head coach Mark Knudsen said. "All our kids played very well together. There really wasn't one player who stood out above all the rest."

On our all-Santa Clarita Valley boys volleyball team, five are Valencia seniors. Jim Baughman, the team's leader with 81 blocks, is our Player of the Year. Baughman had 202 kills, 26 aces and 61 digs.

"We really don't have one guy that stands out," Baughman said recently at Del Monte Recreation Park in Valencia. "I'd say our team worked well together. We're all best friends, we've all been playing together since we were in seventh grade."

Vikings kills leader Jamey Ker, setter Gio Botten, and Derrik Trent, an outside hitter from Liberty High in Bakersfield, are all well-deserved spots on our seven-man rotation.

Botten was a vital piece of the Valencia puzzle as a setter with 379 assists, while Trent finished his ninth year of playing volleyball as a national champion.

Baughman is 6-foot-7, Trent is 6-3, Ker 6-2, Miyamoto is 6-1 and Botten is 5-foot-11.

"Without a good setter, you can't run a good offense," Botten said.

Jamey Ker was named CIF SS Div. II Player of the Year and led the Vikings with 309 kills. Ker also dished out 36 aces, 220 digs and 51 blocks.

Trent had 119 kills, 306 assists, 47 aces, 103 digs and 31 blocks.

Synergy head coach Walt Ker, who leads a club team in Valencia, is Jamey's father.

"The majority of us played club together for several years," Jamey Ker said. "The way players are fed into our program at Valencia, people want to be part of that. They have a chance to be national champions."
Eric Miyamoto, a defensive specialist who had enough digs this past season with 279 to practically become a mole, was also selected.

"I feel through this season I got more consistent," Miyamoto said. "We wanted to get that perfect pass nine out of 10 times, instead of eight out of 10 times."

West Ranch senior Matt Pudimott, who was a defensive specialist, and Hart High outside hitter Shane Siezega round out the squad.

Pudimott and Siezega were both part of major turnarounds for their volleyball teams.

The Wildcats finished with their best showing in the Foothill League at 7-3, after finishing 2-10 overall the previous season. They also reached the CIF Southern Section tournament for the first time in team history.
"I think we realized how long people have been playing," Pudimott said. "We asked ourselves, ‘Why can't we do it?' We went all out, left nothing on the table."

Five of West Ranch's starters and nine on the team were seniors.

Siezega was an important part of an Indians team that went 6-4 and reached the section tournament for the first time in 10 seasons. Even though Hart lost in the first round, it was a successful season for that program.

New Hart head coach Mary Krisan was a big factor.

"She really stepped up," Siezega said. "She came in and gave us discipline. Our first-round match was great. We knew we weren't going to win state, we figured, ‘Why not have the best times of our lives?'"

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