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Prep volleyball: Vikes won’t wilt

Valencia girls withstand the pressure of a fifth game

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

It would have been easy for the Valencia girls volleyball team to wilt under the pressure of a fifth game.

Especially after blowing a fourth game in which the Vikings led most of the way before losing 25-22.

Fortunately, they’ve been there before.

Valencia closed out a back-and-forth match with a 15-7 win in the final game to defeat Lakewood High 3-2 Wednesday night at Valencia High School.

Valencia won by game scores of 24-26, 25-20, 30-28, 22-25 and 15-7.

Every day in practice, the Vikings run a drill — the “fifth-game drill.”

And every day, Valencia head coach Ray Sanchez puts his players in the position they found themselves in Wednesday.

“I think (the drill) helps,” said Delaney Knudsen, who led the Vikings with 16 kills. “We know if we’re down we can always pull back. We’re going to have a lot more of that mentality now.”

Carly Carapella led the Vikings with 23 digs and 29 assists in the match, and Crystal Makous led with four aces.

The Vikings, though, arguably shouldn’t have been in the position they were. They lost the first game despite leading most of the way before Lakewood made a comeback to take its first lead at 23-22.

The Lancers would go on to win and take the early 1-0 lead.

Valencia responded quickly, though, by taking the second game.

The third game proved pivotal for both teams, as the Lancers held the lead for most of the game until Valencia’s Sierra Sanchez gave her team a 23-22 advantage.

The Vikings went on to win the game when the Lancers’ Chrissy Tuua sent the ball out of bounds.

“We’ve been doing that all year,” said Lakewood head coach Mike Wadley. “We aren’t able to play up.”

The Lancers battled back, led by Megan Kruidhof’s 19 kills and Heather Eggers’ 37 digs. They won the final four points of the fourth game to force a fifth and deciding game.

“It was kind of a seesaw battle,” Sanchez said. “I thought the fourth game was going to be it, and they battled back.”

But Valencia wasn’t ready to back down.

In the fifth set, the Vikings took the largest lead of the match for either side at 14-7.

One serve later, Sanchez recorded her 14th kill of the match, giving the Vikings both the game and the match.

In the end, the Vikings had just been there before — every day in practice.

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