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Saugus controls seesaw

Centurions outlast West Ranch in a volleyball classic

Posted: November 4, 2008 10:16 p.m.
Updated: November 5, 2008 4:55 a.m.

(From left to right) Valencia High's Megan Lavo (No. 1), Shelby LeDuff (No. 17) and Jayme Pinkowski (No. 5) play against Golden Valley in the first game of the match that Valencia won 25-18.

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Watching the intensity of Tuesday's girls volleyball match between Saugus and West Ranch, one would get the feeling that it was already the CIF-Southern Section Girls Volleyball Tournament.

While the postseason is not until Tuesday, Saugus' five-set win in the highly competitive Foothill League sure felt like the playoffs.

The senior leadership of Centurion outside hitter Katie Estes could not have been more timely.

On match point, she served a hard ace that Wildcat libero Kayley Braucher could not handle.

That put an emphatic finish to visiting Saugus' nail-biting victory, 30-28, 24-26, 25-27, 25-20, 16-14.

"It was so nerve-wracking," Estes said. "I told myself not to miss it."

Estes' ability to find a wide-open spot on West Ranch's floor, complemented by her roar of approval, set up match point at 15-14. Estes was the top player of the match with 24 kills, 26 digs and five blocks.

The Centurions, (20-4-1, 6-3), though, still cannot catch the Wildcats for second in league as West ranch owns the tiebreaker between the two teams.

If Saugus beats Hart on Thursday at home and West Ranch loses at home to Valencia on the same day, West Ranch beat Saugus in four games earlier this season. Due to the fact Saugus won in five, the tiebreaker goes to the Wildcats.

The loss by West Ranch clinched another league championship for Valencia (9-0 in league), its seventh in a row.

"One of the things we've been working on is staying calm at match point and making sure we force them to make errors," said Saugus head coach Zach Ambrose. "We've been doing this for a couple of weeks. We did this against West Ranch, we did it against Hart."

Saugus will travel to begin its postseason, as it clinched a spot in the postseason with the win.

The climactic fifth game featured 11 ties and every ounce of effort from both teams.

The cherry on top of the cake was Saugus fighting off match point by West Ranch. Wildcat Sophia Burns put away a sneaky two-handed kill for a 14-13 advantage.

Burns finished with the match's only triple-double - 15 kills, 25 assists and 15 digs.

The Wildcats' ability to win the match - and therefore keep up with the Vikings for the league hunt - evaporated with Centurion freshman hitter Jaclyn Clark's hard hammer of a kill to tie the game.

Clark finished with 18 kills and 24 digs.

Saugus' hitters were aided by setter Alyssa Terwall, who had 56 assists and 18 digs.

"This is the best match we've played in league by far," Ambrose said. "Hopefully this will push us as we go forward."

Saugus staved off a 2-1 games lead with the five-point win in the fourth game. The Centurions led early 21-13, but the Wildcats made their move.

Burns served a ball in the back row that Saugus allowed to land for an ace, one of 23 for West Ranch. Burns later bumped a kill that landed right on the back line, which made it as close as 23-20.

But Burns' next serve went long, then Taylor Schubert put one down that tied the match at 2-2.

The third game ended with an ace along the back line by Wildcat leading hitter Allison Summers on match point, which was set up by another kill by Burns. Saugus led 10-5, but a block by Burns sparked a 15-4 West Ranch run that cut the lead to 20-14.

Summers had a team-high 17 kills and six aces.

West Ranch held onto a 21-18 lead to prevent an 0-2 hole. Burns again gave her team a lead in close circumstances at 25-24, then Estes' serve sailed just long.

The first game set the tone for what was to come later. Megan Futch of West Ranch hit one into the net on game point. There were six ties and six lead changes after Futch's ace gave the Wildcats match point at 24-23.

Clark smashed five kills in the first-game win.


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