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Prep volleyball: Home court advantage

Inaugural Foothill Invitational tips off at three locations

Posted: August 11, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: August 11, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Saugus' Casey Madsen (5) celebrates a point with teammates against Valencia at the Foothill Invitational on Friday at Golden Valley High. The tournament runs through the weekend.

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Organizing a tournament for 22 high school girls volleyball teams isn’t an easy feat, but with the exception of one minor set back, day one of the inaugural Foothill Invitational volleyball tournament went off without a hitch at three locations across the valley Friday.

The tournament, which included all six Foothill League squads, was put on by the Los Angeles Volleyball Academy and will run through the weekend at West Ranch and Golden Valley high schools and the Santa Clarita Sports Complex.
The tournament features teams from across California, including schools in Eagle Rock, Irvine, Fresno, Temecula, Blythe and Woodland Hills.

“The (Foothill) League has been getting better and better,” said Saugus head coach Zach Ambrose. “It proves the level of volleyball we’re playing when teams like Chaparral (of Temecula) come up.”

Valencia, Saugus and West Ranch competed Friday in the more competitive Invitational Division, with the Vikings opening up the day with a 2-0 (25-18, 26-24) victory over the Centurions at Golden Valley High School.

The Vikings ended day one 2-1, tied for second in pool two, while the Centurions were tied for fourth at 1-2.

The Wildcats enter day two at 2-1, good for a second place tie in pool one with Taft and Louisville, both of Woodland Hills.

The Sports Complex, where West Ranch played, saw the only hiccup of the event so far, as scheduled participant Narbonne High School failed to show up, forcing tournament officials to scramble to change the format.

“It didn’t affect it too much, we had promised every team eight games,” said tournament co-director Brad Lyans. “That pool went from six to five teams, but instead of playing best two-out-of-three, we’re playing three sets no matter what.”

After the coaches agreed on the changes, the event continued to run smoothly at the location.

Across the valley at West Ranch High School, the tournament’s Festival Division got underway with Hart, Canyon,

Golden Valley, Saugus and West Ranch fielding teams in the non-competitive division.

“There’s been a lot of good volleyball,” said co-tournament director Brian Ingino of the day’s events. “It looks like the teams are getting ready for the upcoming year.”

And that’s really what the event is about.

With the high school season quickly approaching, coaches are using the tournament as a way to analyze their strengths and weaknesses.

“That’s exactly the mode that we’re operating in,” Ambrose said. “We’re not going to have that cohesiveness as a team because we’re having different people rotating in.”

But that isn’t to say there aren’t athletes looking for more than just improvement.

“We’re here to win,” said Valencia’s Sierra Sanchez. “It’s not just that it’s summer, that’s not what we do at Valencia — we’re here to win. That’s what I love about this team: Everybody is super competitive and wants to win.”

In order to do that, Valencia would have to get through today’s challenge matches.

All six schools at both Invitational Division sites will compete in a single challenge match for the right to move on to Sunday’s winners bracket.

The event will continue today at Golden Valley and West Ranch high schools and the Santa Clarita Sports Complex.

Schedules can be found at lavacademy.com/foothill.

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