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CIF volleyball: The giant rolls

Proud program makes the quarterfinals of D-II playoffs

Posted: May 13, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 13, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Valencia’s Broc Oppler (21) leaps for a kill in game 2 of the CIF-SS Div. II second-round playoff match on Thursday against the Righetti Warriors of Santa Maria at Valencia High School.

When it comes to playoffs, teams often have to face unfamiliar opponents, which makes in-game adjustments paramount.

Valencia boys volleyball clearly didn't have a problem with that.

After a shaky opening game, the Vikings passed their first test of the CIF-Southern Section Division II playoffs with flying colors in the second round by beating Righetti High of Santa Maria 3-0 on Thursday night at Valencia High School.

The 25-22. 25-15, 25-13 win puts the Vikings (21-7) into the quarterfinals on Saturday against the winner of the Oaks Christian-Beckman match.

"That was a good game for us because we're going to have to play in matches like that from here on out," said Valencia head coach Mark Knudsen.

In game 1, the undersized, yet athletic Warriors (20-7), who finished second in the Pac-7 League, challenged Valencia with a stifling block and scrappy defense.

The lead went back and forth stretching all the way to a 20-19 Righetti advantage.

Eric Ensing and Kurt Fults answered with back-to-back kills which put the Vikings back in front 24-22 before Fults finished it off.

Ensing finished with 10 kills and Fults added nine, but after the first game, Valencia reached into its bag of tricks.

"We had to adjust to their block and their defense," Knudsen said. "We haven't faced that tough of a block all season."

The strong blocking was present despite a roster full of players mostly under 6 feet tall. Wyatt Passmore was the biggest threat in the front row, standing at 6-foot-5. He totaled four kills on the day.

The Warriors were led by five kills from outside hitter Kyle Stevens.

In the final two games, Valencia started mixing sets and attempting different types of attacks from different angles, which quickly put the Warriors' defense on its heels.

After a brief 6-5 Righetti lead, it was a runaway second game, with Oppler racking up four of his match-high 14 kills. He also scored Valencia's final three points off service aces.

By that point, Righetti was visibly rattled.

"I think a few of the frustrations and some of the distractions got to them," said Righetti head coach Diana Strasbaugh.

Between the crowd, the Vikings' precision offense and the powerful serving, Righetti couldn't stay in game 3 for very long.

A 6-0 Valencia run ran the score up to 12-4 after five straight points off of Fults serves.

Valencia mixed in power attacks with simple tips over the net to keep the defense honest.

"Setting is a game of chess," said Valencia senior Shane Nazarian, who tallied 39 assists. "You've just got to get in their head and keep them on their toes."

The Vikings will play on the road for the quarterfinal match.



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