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Prep volleyball: Standing alone

Prep volleyball: Valencia beats West Ranch to secure Foothill’s top spot

Posted: October 31, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 31, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Valencia's Lindsey Knudsen (3) lifts Leah Konigsberg (24) as other players join in to celebrate Valencia's win over West Ranch at West Ranch High on on Tuesday. The 3-2 win gave Valencia an outright Foothill League title.

 

Valencia girls volleyball could have hung up its 2012 Foothill League champion banner five days ago.

But the Vikings knew the real decider was going to be on Tuesday against West Ranch.

With the league’s No. 1 playoff seed on the line and rematch on its mind, Valencia came back from a one-game deficit twice and knocked off West Ranch 3-2 at West Ranch High School.

Valencia won 22-25, 25-21, 19-25, 25-23, 15-11.”

“There was a lot on the line,” said Valencia head coach Ray Sanchez. “A banner is a banner, but we’re playing for playoff seeding.”

The Vikings (18-9 overall, 9-1 Foothill) had already clinched a share of the Foothill crown on Thursday with a win over Hart, but Tuesday’s victory secured an outright championship and the league’s top seed in next week’s CIF-Southern Section Division IA playoffs.

Winning its 10th league title in the past 11 years prompted an extended celebration on West Ranch’s court.

It was made possible by 19 kills and 20 digs from Delaney Knudsen, and 10 kills and a strong performance at the net by Hayley Knapp.

Knudsen came alive in the final two games, and she elevated over Knapp’s shoulders to slam down the match-winning kill in the deciding game.

“I could reach it. I wanted to hit it, so I hit it,” Knudsen said of the kill, which she admitted wasn’t intended for her.

Earlier in the same game, it was Knudsen and Knapp who teamed up on the right side to block West Ranch’s Alexis Clewis twice in a row, which changed the momentum.

Clewis finished with 18 kills, but Valencia was able to counter her with the block when it mattered most.

“This team knows how to close out when they get to those deciding (games),” Sanchez said. “They take care of business and they save their best ball for the very last part of the match.”

On the other side, West Ranch (15-6, 7-3) finished tied for second with Hart in league, but will settle for the No. 3 seed out of league due Hart’s edge in the tiebreaker.

“I don’t know what the switch was this time around,” said Wildcats head coach Gerrit Maxwell, referencing his team’s 3-1 win over Valencia on Oct. 11. “It was close. We just didn’t close out.”

After the teams traded game victories to start the match, the Wildcats took the upper hand by pulling away for a game three victory to take a 2-1 advantage.

Sarah McGough added 12 kills for West Ranch and Carly Carapella dished out 37 assists.

Valencia setter Lindsey Knudsen also had 37 assists to go along with 10 kills and five aces.

She routinely fed the ball to her older sister Delaney and fellow outside hitter Sierra Sanchez down the stretch.

As usual, the two seniors delivered, and helped the Vikings get their revenge from the loss to West Ranch earlier in the month.

“The way we’ve prepared since then is the difference,” Delaney Knudsen said. “We were ready to win this.”

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