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CIF volleyball playoffs: Battle back

Valencia shifts things into gear late

Posted: November 7, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 7, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Valencia's Lindsey Knudsen (71) and Kellie Kleszcz (15) block a hit from Flintridge Sacred Heart's Madelyn Peterson (4) on Tuesday night at Valencia High in the first round of the CIF-SS Div. IA playoffs.

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As girls volleyball matches go, it was as bizarre as they come.

At times, Valencia looked incapable of scoring a point. At other moments, the Vikings looked like their usual solid, poised selves.

Despite getting blown out in two games, Valencia rallied back and hung on for a 3-2 win over Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy on Tuesday in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division IA playoffs at Valencia High School.

The Vikings lost two of the first three games by scores of 25-10 and 25-5, but managed to win games two, four and five by scores of 25-12, 25-18 and 15-12, respectively.

“I can’t explain it,” said Valencia head coach Ray Sanchez of the match. “I told them, ‘There’s no such thing as a bad win in the playoffs.’”

Flintridge served tough and the Vikings (25-10) struggled to keep their hits in play early in the match.

But when the season hung in the balance, the usual clutch performers got the job done.

“It was definitely a weird match, but our team practices fifth-game situations over and over,” said Valencia sophomore Emily Bible.

Delaney Knudsen led with 15 kills — five in the final game — Sierra Sanchez finished with 11 kills and 10 digs and Kellie Kleszcz chipped in 3 1/2 blocks in the middle.

Though three Valencia starters were playing through illness, it took a full-fledged effort to beat a strong opponent in Flintridge (15-16), which finished tied for third in the Mission League.

“No (opponent) cares that you’re sick,” Sanchez said of what he told his team. “‘You guys have got to figure out what you’ve got to do. You don’t want to go home.”

Kathryn Conley led the Tologs with 11 kills, and Meghan Lacey added 10, while Colleen Degnan tallied 27 assists.

Valencia limited Flintridge’s top hitters in the fifth game with an impressive blocking performance from Kleszcz, Knudsen and Hayley Knapp in the front row.

In the second round, the Vikings will face the winner of Ayala vs. Canyon of Anaheim.

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