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Foothill League girls volleyball: Valencia continues rebound

After dropping its opening Foothill League match, the Vikings continue to roll by beating Wildcats

Posted: October 12, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: October 12, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Valencia’s Delaney Knudsen (4) and Kellie Kleszcz (15) of Valencia High block a shot by Amanda Dieterle (24) of West Ranch at West Ranch on Tuesday.

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Valencia girls volleyball may have gotten its hiccup out of the way early.

The team is evidently settling into a groove which now has Valencia on a three-match Foothill League winning streak, with the latest coming in the form of a 3-0 victory over West Ranch on Tuesday at West Ranch High School.

After dropping the league opener to Saugus two weeks ago, the Vikings (11-4, 3-1) handed West Ranch its first loss of the season by scores of 25-16, 25-17 and 25-21.

“We didn’t really know what to expect against Saugus,” said Valencia outside hitter Sierra Sanchez, “but I think we’re starting to figure it out.”

In short, the Vikings did what they wanted to do by mixing up their hitter and where the hits were coming from.

The strategy kept a normally stout West Ranch (7-11, 3-1) defense off balance and out of position, unable to key on any particular Valencia player.

“It just puts a lot of pressure on other teams’ blockers,” Sanchez said of the offensive scheme. “It’s hard to go pin-to-pin the whole game.”

Junior Delaney Knudsen ended up leading the Vikings with 12 kills, but Sanchez followed closely with nine and Serena LeDuff had eight.

Sanchez also recorded 12 digs and three aces, both of which were team highs.

In the first two games, Valencia’s variety of offensive looks and strong serving allowed it to mostly coast to a 2-0 lead.

The Wildcats were unable to get their outside hitters going.

“Our past five or six matches we have been (good on offense),” said West Ranch head coach Nate Sparks. “Tonight, we were just off. Our pin hitters weren’t hitting well.”

Instead, West Ranch had to rely on its middle blockers, namely Angel Rutledge, who led the team with 10 kills.

Defensively, libero Danielle Thompson had a match-high 15 digs.

Other than that, it was a frustrating night for the Wildcats, who couldn’t counter on offense.

“We had some good communication in the first two games,” Sanchez said. “We’ve been working a lot in practice on just communicating between setters and hitters.”

Of Valencia’s two setters, Carly Carapella led with 20 assists while Knudsen had 13.

The final game proved to be West Ranch’s best opportunity after it took a 6-2 early lead.

From there, the teams exchanged side-outs until Valencia managed a small run to get ahead 20-17. A rash of Wildcats serving errors eventually spelled their demise.

Knudsen collected eight of her kills in the third game alone.

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