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Foothill volleyball: Role reversal

Vikings defeat defending league champions in league opener

Posted: September 28, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 28, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Valencia High middle blocker Kellie Kleszcz and the Vikings celebrate a point against the Saugus Centurions on Thursday at Valencia. The Vikings made quick work of Saugus, winning in three games to open the Foothill season.

For the first time in nearly a decade, the Valencia girls volleyball team wasn’t playing the part of the defending champion in its Foothill League opener.

On Thursday at Valencia High School, that role belonged to Saugus.

The Vikings, though, wasted no time proving they’re capable of getting back to the top, defeating the Centurions 25-23, 25-13, 26-24.

Senior outside hitter Delaney Knudsen led the Vikings’ attack, tallying a team-high 14 kills and 20 digs.

Sophomore Lindsey Knudsen added a team-high 28 assists, and Sierra Sanchez had 13 kills and 19 digs for Valencia (9-4 overall, 1-0 Foothill League).

“It’s definitely a good feeling (to get the win),” said Valencia head coach Ray Sanchez. “It wasn’t easy. Saugus played well. We knew they would be strong.”

Saugus (8-7, 0-1) entered the season with question marks after losing many key players to graduation after its 2011 Foothill League title. But on Thursday, the Centurions came out strong behind seniors Hannah Nua and Ashley Guthrie.

The match’s opening game was tight until the end, with the Centurions jumping out to a quick lead, before Valencia battled back to tie the score 12-12.

The score remained tied as late as 23-23, but the Vikings tallied off two points, winning the game on a kill by Sanchez.

“Games one and three we played well enough,” said Saugus head coach Zach Ambrose. “We were there at game point (in game three). But (we’re) still raw and trying to catch up to the speed of varsity.”

The Vikings made quicker work of Saugus in the second game, as the Centurions struggled with the pass and found few options outside of Nua, who led the team with 23 kills and 15 digs.

Guthrie led Saugus with 30 assists and three blocks, while Hannah Peeters had 12 digs.

“We didn’t pass as well (in game two),” Ambrose said. “It dropped down and we were stuck out of system for most of the game.”

Valencia used that to its advantage, turning a 2-2 tie into a comfortable 24-13 victory that ended when Saugus was called for an illegal backcourt attack.

Saugus figured things out in the third game, rallying to take a 24-23 lead on a Nua kill and Makena Wasserman ace.

That’s when the Vikings turned to Knudsen, who notched two of her team’s final three kills, including the match winner.

“We did get maybe a little bit (complacent),” Knudsen said. “But we didn’t let them get back. Never quit — we kept strong, so I’m proud of our team.”



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