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Foothill League boys volleyball: League of their own

Valencia boys take care of Saugus to set the state record for most consecutive league wins at 97

Posted: April 20, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 20, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Valencia setter Shane Nazarian (25) sets teammate Austin Csiszar (49) as Saugus’ Bobby Aholt, right, and Matt Coleman prepare to defend on Tuesday at Valencia High School. The Vikings beat Saugus 3-1 to set the state record for most consecutive league wins at 97.

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A decade ago, Valencia boys volleyball was nothing more than an up-and-coming program at a relatively new school.

Now it has done something no other team has in state history — win 97 league matches in a row.

Saugus was the team which happened to fall victim to the Vikings 3-1 on Tuesday at Valencia High School to top the all-time record, which was set by Loyola High of Los Angeles in 2006.

Valencia (10-5, 5-0) won with scores of 25-17, 25-14, 21-25 and 25-20.

With former coaches and players in attendance and joining in a ceremony afterward, it was fitting given the program’s transformation from the new guys on the block when the streak began in 2001 to the dominant program it is today.

“I hope it’s not the end,” said ninth-year Valencia head coach Mark Knudsen. “It’s a great opportunity to get everybody together. It’s a great opportunity for the alumni to come back and celebrate everything they’ve accomplished, and now is the time to do it. You don’t celebrate it when the streak ends.”

It was a streak that began innocently enough with a 3-0 victory over Hart on April 5, 2001. That happened to be the year of the Vikings’ first Foothill League title under head coach Kevin Kornegay.

Since then, Valencia won the next nine league championships, took home four CIF-Southern Section Division II titles and a National Championship in 2008, according to StudentSportsVolleyball.com.

All of those accomplishments came down to Tuesday’s match.

“I was probably more nervous than the kids were because I knew what was on the line,” said Kornegay, who has remained involved in the program since stepping down as coach in 2001. “So much hard work for 10 years that went into where we’re at, and I just wanted to see it come to fruition.”

Before that could happen, the Vikings had to overcome inconsistent serving.

In the first game, neither team came out strong, and miscues kept Saugus (5-9, 2-3) within reach when it trailed 19-16.
With a series of crippling serves, Valencia went on a 5-0 run and eventually capped off the game.

Kurt Fults had a team-high seven kills to go with four aces, while Broc Oppler and Griffin Nichols each finished with six kills.

In all, the Vikings committed 18 service errors in the match, but they made up for it with stretches of tough serving that put the Centurions’ offense on its heels.

By the end of game 2, it appeared Valencia was going to run away with it, but Saugus put the 97th win on hold for one more game.

“I truly believe we could have been a 4-0 team coming in here, but we’ve made so many mistakes,” said Saugus head coach Barry Nua. “Today, we wanted to limit our mistakes and take advantage of theirs.”

Once the Centurions got into a rhythm in game 3, that’s what they did.

Saugus junior Matt Coleman tallied six of his match-high 12 kills in the game to lead the charge, and teammate Colby Wilson added five of his own. Wilson finished with nine total kills.

“We just kind of choked a little bit I guess. We didn’t want it as much, but we wanted it in the last game and we got it done,” said Valencia setter Shane Nazarian, who totaled 25 assists.

The fight continued in the final game as Saugus closed a 19-12 deficit to 22-19. But a Coleman service error ended the match and put the Vikings alone as the state record-holders.

As far as they’re concerned though, it isn’t over yet.

“It’s just another game that we won,” Nazarian said. “We want to be the seniors that go undefeated all the way through league. That will be a relief, winning that last (league) match.”

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