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Foothill volleyball: The first phase

Vikes win 11th straight league title, set sights on other goals

Posted: May 4, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 4, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Valencia’s Kurt Fults, center, set the ball as teammates, from left to right, Daniel Salovich, Griffin Ender, Eric Ensing and Broc Oppler look on at Hart High School on Tuesday. The Vikings won the match 3-0 to clinch the Foothill League title.

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One goal down, two to go.

Coming into the season, Valencia boys volleyball wanted to win the Foothill League first and foremost.

It did that by finishing off league second-place Hart 3-0 on Tuesday at Hart High School, clinching an outright League title.

With scores of 25-20, 25-20 and 25-23, the Vikings (18-7, 9-0) have now won at least a share of 11 straight titles and have stretched their state-record league win streak to 101 matches.

Next up for the Vikings will be to finish yet another undefeated Foothill season, which it can do on Thursday against Saugus. After that, it will set its sights on a CIF-Southern Section Division II championship.

One step at a time.

"I don't want to suggest we took it for granted," said Valencia head coach Mark Knudsen of winning league. "It's been so much our goal, we almost took it as a given."

Even against Hart (23-7, 7-2), which had a chance to tie things up in the standings coming in to the day, the Vikings controlled the pace for most of the match.

On Senior Night, the Indians were in a 10-4 hole early in the first game when they fell out of sync defensively and had trouble getting by the Valencia block.

"It was a little more emotional and you saw that in game 1," said Hart co-head coach Sia Irilian. "It doesn't matter if it's Senior Night, Grandma's Night, Kids' Night, you've got to play."

Once it settled down, Hart managed to get within two points at 15-13, but Valencia senior Broc Oppler served three straight aces shortly after that to effectively finish it off.

Oppler contributed all over the court, scoring a match-high 13 kills, along with four aces, nine digs and four blocks.

In the first two games, most of the offense came from teammate Eric Ensing, who had nine of his 12 kills before game 3.

"We try to mix it around," Ensing said. "If someone's on a hot streak, we try to feed them more."

The second game proved sloppy for both teams, as Valencia held on to a small lead most of the way. The teams traded side-outs for a while until a string of Hart mental errors let the Vikings pull away again.

The usual scorers for the Indians, Taylor Gregory and J.J. Mosolf were kept under control throughout.

Mosolf finished with seven kills to go with two aces, Gregory had five kills, and Tanner Tengberg led the team with eight kills.

"That's what we did better today is play more defense," Knudsen said. "We had a lot of digs. ... We had a lot of blocks, too."

Valencia libero Griffin Ender led with 12 digs.

Hart's best opportunity to steal a game came at the end, when it took a 23-20 lead.

But Valencia rattled off five straight points to win - three of them were Oppler kills.

"Once we get the momentum, we really feed off each other," Ensing said. "Once we get going, we're hard to stop."



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