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Foothill volleyball: Vikes take the lead

Valencia defeats Hart to become the only undefeated team in the Foothill

Posted: October 10, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: October 10, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Kaitlyn Uythoven (20) jumps for joy as she and her Valencia volleyball teammates celebrate a win over Hart at Hart High on Tuesday.

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No league champion was going to be decided by this match, but that didn’t take away from its importance.

Valencia knew it. Hart knew it. The atmosphere supported it.

But once the initial adrenaline subsided, Valencia was the team that proved it was the better all-around team, winning 3-1 over Hart in a matchup of the Foothill League’s last remaining undefeated teams on Tuesday night at Hart High School.

After dropping the first game 25-16, the Vikings (12-4 overall, 4-0 Foothill League) stormed back to win the next three, 25-11, 25-20 and 25-22.

“We were a little bit better, we were a little bit taller, we were a little more athletic,” said Valencia head coach Ray Sanchez. “We want to use that (to our advantage). We don’t want to make it an emotional game.”

Call it emotion or anything else, Hart (11-4, 3-1) flat-out controlled the opening game, using excellent serving to set the tone and putting it away later due to an array of Valencia unforced errors.

Valencia’s pair of senior hitters, Delaney Knudsen and Sierra Sanchez, were held to a combined three kills in the first game, but both settled in and ended up posting their usual impressive stat lines.

Sanchez led all hitters with 16 kills to go with 16 digs and Knudsen followed with 15 kills and 21 digs.

Once those two got involved, it was difficult for the Indians to find an answer in the block.

“This is the first time in years we’ve had a league title (contender) match, especially this early,” said Hart head coach Mary Keen. “It’s really new for all these girls.”

Valencia is ranked sixth in this week’s CIF-Southern Section Division IA poll while Hart made its first appearance this week in the polls at 10th.

The Indians haven’t won a league title since 2006, when they split it with Valencia.

While the Vikings were able to find their rhythm as the match progressed on Tuesday, Hart struggled to spread the ball around to its various weapons.

Amy King and Chase Tengberg co-led the Indians with 10 kills apiece and libero Katie Baker finished with four aces and 13 digs.

In games two and three, Valencia got its serving back on track and the team proved its ability to string together long point rallies when it scored 12 in a row to close out the second set.

“It’s just a game,” Sierra said of Valencia’s improvement after game one. “We’re fine. We’ve been playing it forever. ... We don’t have to do anything special.”

The fourth game was the most evenly played of the match, and although Hart fought to tie the score 20-20, it was the usual Knudsen and Sanchez combination that finished things off.

Also pitching in for the Vikings was setter Lindsey Knudsen, who had 29 assists and seven kills while middle blocker Hayley Knapp finished with seven kills.

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