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Prep volleyball: Sets the tone

Valencia wins in the first round for fifth straight year

Posted: November 9, 2010 10:10 p.m.
Updated: November 10, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Jayne Oncea/For The Signal Valencia’s Emily Ellias (22) spikes the ball past Estancia defenders Lauren Peterson, left, and Lilly McLendon, right, at Valencia High on Tuesday in the CIF-Southern Section Division IA girls volleyball playoffs.

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Valencia girls volleyball hasn’t lost in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division IA playoffs since 2005.

Tuesday night, the Foothill League champion Vikings kept the streak alive with authority, quickly dispatching visiting Estancia of Costa Mesa 3-0 at Valencia High School.

Valencia, ranked No. 8 in the latest CIF-SS Division IA poll, advanced to the second round of the playoffs in dominating fashion, winning the games 25-16, 25-15 and 25-12.

“Honestly, I didn’t think we played that well, but we went out and we got the job done,” said Valencia head coach Ray Sanchez.

The Vikings (15-10) went right to work on getting the middle blockers involved in the offense.

The two Valencia middles, Alexa Schmidt and Emily Ellias, shared the team lead with seven kills, most of which came on back sets or plays where Ellias slid behind the setter for the attack.

“Emily is great at hitting the slides and Alexa can hit those back sets, but that’s just what our offense is built to do,” Sanchez said.

A few service and hitting errors by Valencia kept the Eagles (8-11) close in the game, leading to a slim 16-13 Valencia advantage.

Eventually, the hard hitting was too much for Estancia to handle and the Vikings took the first game easily.

“When a team is comfortable running that play that strongly, it’s tough to defend,” said Estancia head coach Paul Munoz.

Valencia then picked up right where it left off, going up 4-0 to start the second game. The Vikings did it thanks partly to junior Sydney Striff’s two aces. She played only a handful of points in the match, but her serves led to three Valencia points.

The Eagles came back with some well-placed attacks and got within two points at 7-5, but that was the closest they would be in the entire match.

Valencia’s strategy from there was to simply keep the ball alive and wait for Estancia to make mistakes.

The plan worked, and the Vikings didn’t leave any doubt the rest of the way.

“We’ve been waiting for this all year and I think we can push through as a team,” said Valencia outside hitter Serena LeDuff.

LeDuff led the team with 18 digs and also added six kills.

As a team, the Vikings kept the Eagles off balance all night with strong serving. Valencia had 10 aces as a team.

In the next round of the playoffs on Thursday, the Vikings have a potential rematch against El Dorado of Placentia, a team they lost to in the Redondo Power Classic Tournament a week ago.

“We’d love to play them again and redeem ourselves,” Sanchez said. “They’re a good team and they beat us pretty good, but we’d love to get another shot at them.”

El Dorado ranks No. 9 in the Division IA poll.

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