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CIF volleyball: Calm and moving on

Valencia cruises past Highland of Palmdale in round 1

Posted: May 11, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 11, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Valencia’s Eric Ensing (55) finishes a kill as Highland of Palmdale’s Devin Rohewal defends during their CIF-Southern Section Division II playoff match Tuesday at Valencia.

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The scene of Valencia boys volleyball players doing handstands and playing “Duck, Duck, Goose” during a break in the action told the story.

The Vikings carried a relaxed yet focused attitude into the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division II playoffs.

After goofing around during an extended delay while officials sorted out serving rotations, Valencia went on to beat Highland of Palmdale 3-0 on Tuesday night at Valencia High School.

Game scores came in at 25-14, 25-12 and 25-20, but Valencia head coach Mark Knudsen doesn’t expect an easy path through the rest of the postseason.

“You don’t want to get stressed,” Knudsen said of the team’s demeanor. “If it projects a certain amount of confidence, that’s good. If it projects that you’re not taking it seriously, that’s not good. You want to make sure you’re respecting your opponent.”

The Bulldogs (8-9) came in as the fourth-place finisher out of the Golden League, and they couldn’t do much to match Valencia (20-7), which is seeded No. 3 overall in Division II.

The Vikings spread the wealth, with junior Eric Ensing recording a match-high 10 kills followed by nine apiece from seniors Kurt Fults and Broc Oppler.

Oppler also had 15 digs and two aces.

“We just tried to compete,” said Highland head coach Jada Jackson. “All we can do is do what we do best.”

The best option for the Bulldogs was outside hitter Bradley Haralson, who led the team with eight kills and did his best to redirect the momentum of the match.

Valencia went up 10-2 in the opening game off its usual tough serving that kept Highland out of system.

As passing and hitting errors piled up for Highland, the first game was already lost and the second was slipping away quickly.

At one point, the Bulldogs used a server out of rotation, costing it a point and giving Valencia a 14-6 lead in the second game. The call led to the mix-up which brought about the fun and games.

“We won the first game, and after that we were kind of cruising,” said Valencia libero Griffin Ender, who stepped out of his usual role to play outside hitter in the final game.

Setter Shane Nazarian finished with 23 assists in two games played for the Vikings. Most of the starters were subbed out after the second game.

In the second round, Valencia will face Righetti of Santa Maria, which defeated La Sierra 3-1 on Tuesday. The home team will be determined by a coin flip.

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