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Foothill League boys volleyball: League leaders

Valencia volleyball ties state record for consecutive league wins

Posted: April 15, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 15, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Valencia’s Kurt Fults (5) spikes the ball on Thursday at Valencia High as Hart’s Taylor Gregory (10) and Chris Leclair (28) try to block. Valencia won the match, its 96th consecutive league victory, tying a state record.

 

Everyone knew what was at stake.

The players and coaches from both teams knew. The crowd knew.

Valencia boys volleyball was just one Foothill League win away from tying the all-time California record of 96 consecutive league wins.

Standing in the way was Hart, which was also unbeaten this year in league play coming into the match.

But once it got going and the initial nerves wore off, it was just another volleyball match.

And as it did the last 95 times, Valencia outplayed a Foothill opponent in key situations, beating Hart 3-0 on Thursday in front of a boisterous crowd at Valencia High School.

The game scores were 27-25, 25-23 and 25-17.

The Vikings now share the record with Loyola High of Los Angeles, which set the mark in 2006.

“When I was younger, I would have never thought I’d be in this situation, but I’m glad I am because we handle pressure so well,” said Valencia senior Griffin Nichols, who was in grade school when the 10-year streak began for Valencia.

It was April 3, 2001 when the Vikings last lost a league game — a 3-2 loss to Canyon.

The crowd, which nearly filled up Valencia’s side of the gym, chanted “Ninety-six” when Valencia (9-5, 4-0) reached a match point. When Broc Oppler slammed home the final kill, the celebration ensued with he, his teammates and the “Viking Nation.”

“The fact that there was something more to play for didn’t make us want to win this game,” said Valencia head coach Mark Knudsen. “We wanted to win it because we want to win every game.”

Through the course of 10 years, Valencia has had to survive plenty of scares and face numerous talented opponents.
Thursday was no exception.

It had to survive a fired up Hart team, which came in with intentions of playing the spoiler role.

Behind the sizable Hart faithful and the powerful hitting of J.J. Mosolf and Taylor Gregory, the Indians (13-4, 3-1) took a 19-14 lead in the first game.

Coming out of a timeout, Valencia regained its footing and eventually took the lead back at 22-21 with a successful block.

The teams traded points back-and-forth from there until Oppler and Kurt Fults landed two straight kills to help the Vikings take the game.

Fults had a game-high 12 kills and Oppler had 10.

“It was just the basic fundamentals,” Fults said. “We just had to play our game.”

In the second game, Hart got its block going, led by Gregory’s six for the match, and it came down to the wire once again.
Valencia used precision serving to keep Hart’s hitter off balance, but neither team was able to pull away.

Once again, when the pressure was on, Valencia was the one that made the plays.

“It was honestly the little stuff just at the right time to help them finish it off,” said Hart head coach Mary Krisan.

The third game was a display of the Vikings’ serving and hitting accuracy while mistakes piled up quickly for the Indians.

Mosolf led Hart with eight kills and Gregory had six.

Eric Ensing also had 10 kills for Valencia.

“I’m really looking forward to next week because who wants a tie?” Nichols said. “We want to win it.”

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