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Foothill League boys volleyball: Valencia restores its strength

Vikings’ intensity returns to buoy its talent in a three-set sweep of West Ranch

Posted: April 15, 2010 9:42 p.m.
Updated: April 16, 2010 4:55 a.m.
“Intensity” was an important word to describe the boys volleyball match between Valencia and West Ranch on Thursday.

The Vikings were trying to regain their intensity, while the Wildcats were still working on finding their own.

Valencia defeated West Ranch 3-0 at Valencia High School by scores of 25-22, 25-13 and 25-18.

“We started off kind of strong and then got complacent and you can’t do that,” said Valencia head coach Mark Knudsen. “You have to stay intense all match, and in game two we came out more intense and played better defense.”

That intensity led to an easy 12-point win for the Vikings after they scraped out a 25-22 game one victory in which both teams were tied as late as 22-22.

Back-to-back kills from Valencia’s Steven Crane and Kurt Fults finally put game one out of reach and allowed the Vikings to start with a clean slate in the second game.

They played a cleaner game two as they opened up a 9-3 lead and never looked back.

“They started to serve the ball better (in the second game) and we didn’t pass very well,” said Wildcats head coach Nate Sparks. “In the first game we had 15 kills and in the second we only had five. They won the passing battle.”

For the Vikings, it was Broc Oppler taking advantage of the solid passing by recording nine kills, including the game-opening and game-finishing points.

Valencia also won the intensity battle that was something both sides seemed to stress after the game.

“We came out sort of flat and we talked about it and got more intense and made more noise in the second game,” Oppler said.

That intensity carried over for one more game as Valencia easily put away West Ranch 25-18 in the third game, never letting its lead slip below five.

“We’re trying to get the mental game there and they’re getting close,” Sparks said. “We have the skills to play with other teams in our league, we just don’t keep that intensity up.”

So while the Wildcats were looking to gain their own intensity, on the other side of the court, Valencia was looking to recapture its intensity. That’s something that has led them to the last nine Foothill League titles.

“I want to see us play at our level because I know if we do, we are a great team,” said Valencia co-captain Nick Ferry. “Today we did a good job, but we’ve got to keep that level of intensity up and not have ups and downs.”


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