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Foothill League girls volleyball: Hart ends season on a high

Indians beat a depleted Valencia team for the first time since 2006; Vikes end regular season today

Posted: November 2, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: November 2, 2011 1:55 a.m.
 

A player like Hart High senior Brittani Elser couldn’t have scripted a better finish to her high school career.

She and the Hart girls volleyball team faced a fifth and deciding game against a Valencia team Elser had yet to beat in her time at Hart.

Fittingly, on senior night, it was Elser and fellow senior Sam Wiese who led the charge in a dramatic 3-2 victory over the Vikings on Tuesday at Hart High.

The two landed 14 kills apiece to co-lead the Indians to the win by scores of 25-20, 25-16, 22-25, 19-25 and 15-13. It marked Hart’s first victory over the Vikings since 2006.

“We’re a fighting team,” Elser said. “We may not be able to crush the ball with 6-foot-5 players, but we can fight.”

Despite a fourth-place finish in the Foothill League, the Indians (15-13, 5-5) are still eligible to apply for an at-large bid to the CIF-Southern Section Division IA playoffs, but head coach Mary Keen said she’ll opt against playoffs.

Instead, her team will finish on a high note by holding off pesky Valencia (15-8, 7-2).

The Vikings trailed 2-0 after the first two games, falling victim to their own mistakes and Hart’s mixing of attacks.

Without the services of three starters, Valencia had to start two freshmen and a sophomore, two of which were recently called up from the junior varsity and freshman teams.

One of the starters, Sierra Sanchez, was out with an injury.

Valencia head coach Ray Sanchez didn’t comment on the others.

Considering the circumstances, he was pleased with his team’s performance.

“Everything about this (match) was perfect other than the final result,” Sanchez said.

Early in the match, Hart got Wiese heavily involved offensively in the middle, and the Vikings couldn’t find an answer.

The Indians continued to put the pressure on in the third game, opening a 17-12 lead before Valencia answered with a 8-1 run to take the upper hand at 20-18.

From there, Hart was its own worst enemy with an array of missed hits and errant serves.

In the fourth game, the Vikings carried the momentum and closed out strong with two straight kills by Delaney Knudsen.

Knudsen led Vikings with 13 kills and teammate Sydney Striff followed with 10.

Freshman Lindsey Knudsen tallied 35 assists as Valencia’s setter.

In the final game of the night, Valencia again appeared to be in control, taking an early 7-3 and prompting a Hart timeout.

“I just told the girls, ‘You’ve got to believe in yourselves,’” Keen said. “And then we started chipping away and getting point after point.”

The Indians closed the gap at 8-8 before the two teams began trading blows.

Eventually, it was Hart that looked poised, scoring the final three points of the match off Valencia missed hits.

“It goes back to (preleague),” Elser said. “We took a lot of matches to five games in (preleague), and I was confident going into the fifth game.”

Valencia had already secured a second-place finish in league and a playoff spot.

The Vikings — who postponed a match with Canyon earlier in the season — will play the makeup match today at 5:30 p.m. at Canyon High.

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