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Prep volleyball: Vikes stand out

Valencia wins Foothill crown outright

Posted: November 4, 2010 10:33 p.m.
Updated: November 5, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Valencia’s Alexa Schmidt reaches to hit the ball as teammate Carly Carapella (10) looks on Thursday at West Ranch High. Valencia won the match 3-1.

Valencia had already assured itself at least a share of a ninth straight Foothill League championship in girls volleyball.

Thursday night’s season finale against West Ranch gave it the opportunity to win the title outright.

The Vikings played with a sense of urgency and beat the Wildcats 3-1 as purple and gold-clad Valencia students charged the gym floor at West Ranch High School to celebrate with the team.

“The tension level was higher, and it was nice to see it come down to the final match and we were able to come through in the end,” said Valencia head coach Ray Sanchez, whose team won by scores of 25-13, 25-22, 21-25 and 25-12.

West Ranch (16-14, 7-3) needed a win to gain a share of the Foothill League championship, as it would have forced a three-way tie between Saugus, Valencia and itself.

The magnitude of the match may have affected the Wildcats a little bit more, as early passing and attacking errors put them in an early deficit.

“We fell apart as a team tonight and that was very evident from the start,” said West Ranch head coach Nate Sparks.

Valencia (16-10, 9-1), which lost its only league game of the season against West Ranch last month, had its offense working to perfection in the first game.

The Vikings led throughout the first game behind the effective quick sets, which were often put away by the two senior middle blockers, Alexa Schmidt and Emily Ellias.

They both had 14 kills on the night to lead the team.

“We definitely didn’t want to let all the other (teams) down,” Ellias said of the nine-year league winning streak. “They say they make movies out of things like this.”

Valencia kept the offense rolling in the second game with strong serve receiving against a normally strong serving team in West Ranch.

The Wildcats didn’t grab their first lead until late in the second game when they went up 21-20.

At that point Valencia called a time out, then proceeded to go on a 5-1 scoring run to finish it.

It was yet another display of Valencia delivering in a pressure situation.

“There’s something special about this group of kids,” Sanchez said. “They’re capable of playing well on the court, but off the court, there’s just such a connection and such good relationships between them.”

The serving did eventually catch on for West Ranch in the third game and it helped keep the solid Valencia offense at bay.

Libero Shelby Kunz led the team with three aces and she kept the ball alive on several long volleys in the match, which led to her 40 digs.

Not to be phased, the Vikings came out and ran away with a fourth and clinching game.

“We knew the things we did poorly in that game, and we knew they were things we could correct,” Sanchez said.

In all, Valencia had four players with double-digit kills, with Ashtyn LaVoise (13 kills) and Serena LeDuff (10) also getting into the mix.

“Valencia played a great match, and they just out-played us tonight,” Sparks said.


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