West Ranch volleyball riding the wave

By Haley Sawyer

Last update: Thursday, September 29th, 2016

Whenever West Ranch High girls volleyball finds itself in a hole, it can count on the “triple threat” to dig them out.

Outside hitter Tasha Skabelund, setter Katie Jacobs and middle Kaitlin Schultz helped the Wildcats to a 3-0 win (25-17, 25-17, 25-20) against Saugus on Thursday night to remain undefeated in Foothill League play at 5-0.

“We just talked about becoming a dominant force, not just good but becoming dominant,” said West Ranch coach Brandon Pank. “And all three, within their specific positions, are the dominant athletes inside of our league.”

The Wildcats fell behind in Games 1 and 3, calling on their instincts to pull ahead and pick apart the Centurion defense.

PHOTOS: West Ranch girls volleyball hosts Saugus

Game 2 went smoother, but it wasn’t good enough for anyone on the team, which is striving to become the hardest working team in Southern California.

“Recently we’ve been in the lead and then slowing down, but still pulling it out. So I think this was kind of off-putting for us,” said Jacobs, who had two kills and two blocks. “But I think it’s a mentality, so if we’re behind and we’re making stupid mistakes or whatever, we just have to identify the things that we need to fix quickly and make the adjustments right away.”

Fortunately, Jacobs and her counterparts can adjust quickly and take control whether on the attacking or defending end.

The three are on the same club volleyball team and have played together in some form for the past five years.

They combined for 17 kills, three aces and two blocks against the Cents.

“We connect really well,” Jacobs said. “I know exactly what kind of set they want, I know where they’re going to be, and they’re incredible players. I’m so lucky to have hitters that are able to just hit around the block and really be smart and deceptive.”

While the trio is cerebral and calculated, Jacobs sister, Allison, is aggressive. She’s willing to do whatever it takes, which in Wednesday night’s case included barreling into a water cooler to keep the ball in play.

“It’s pretty cool to see a freshman come in out of nowhere and be at our level and mix with us well and play well,” said Skabelund, who had nine kills. “I’m really excited for her, and I think she has a lot of potential to do really great this season.”

Allison had nine kills in the match. Pank said that she has progressed immensely from when she first joined the team.

West Ranch’s undefeated streak has offered encouragement for the team, which next plays against Golden Valley on Thursday.

“We’re really confident because West Ranch has never beat Valencia or Hart, at least since I’ve been in the program,” Skabelund said.

“We’ve never been able to say we’re undefeated in league and that’s really exciting for us. It makes us confident but it makes us want to get better and win again to win league.”

Saugus, now 2-3 in league and 11-12 overall, continues play against Canyon next Thursday. Caitlin Liebe led the Cents with seven kills and six digs. Holly Piroli had 10 digs.

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West Ranch volleyball riding the wave

West Ranch’s Tasha Skabelund (17) goes for a kill during a volleyball game against Saugus on Thursday. Katharine Lotze/Signal

Whenever West Ranch High girls volleyball finds itself in a hole, it can count on the “triple threat” to dig them out.

Outside hitter Tasha Skabelund, setter Katie Jacobs and middle Kaitlin Schultz helped the Wildcats to a 3-0 win (25-17, 25-17, 25-20) against Saugus on Thursday night to remain undefeated in Foothill League play at 5-0.

“We just talked about becoming a dominant force, not just good but becoming dominant,” said West Ranch coach Brandon Pank. “And all three, within their specific positions, are the dominant athletes inside of our league.”

The Wildcats fell behind in Games 1 and 3, calling on their instincts to pull ahead and pick apart the Centurion defense.

PHOTOS: West Ranch girls volleyball hosts Saugus

Game 2 went smoother, but it wasn’t good enough for anyone on the team, which is striving to become the hardest working team in Southern California.

“Recently we’ve been in the lead and then slowing down, but still pulling it out. So I think this was kind of off-putting for us,” said Jacobs, who had two kills and two blocks. “But I think it’s a mentality, so if we’re behind and we’re making stupid mistakes or whatever, we just have to identify the things that we need to fix quickly and make the adjustments right away.”

Fortunately, Jacobs and her counterparts can adjust quickly and take control whether on the attacking or defending end.

The three are on the same club volleyball team and have played together in some form for the past five years.

They combined for 17 kills, three aces and two blocks against the Cents.

“We connect really well,” Jacobs said. “I know exactly what kind of set they want, I know where they’re going to be, and they’re incredible players. I’m so lucky to have hitters that are able to just hit around the block and really be smart and deceptive.”

While the trio is cerebral and calculated, Jacobs sister, Allison, is aggressive. She’s willing to do whatever it takes, which in Wednesday night’s case included barreling into a water cooler to keep the ball in play.

“It’s pretty cool to see a freshman come in out of nowhere and be at our level and mix with us well and play well,” said Skabelund, who had nine kills. “I’m really excited for her, and I think she has a lot of potential to do really great this season.”

Allison had nine kills in the match. Pank said that she has progressed immensely from when she first joined the team.

West Ranch’s undefeated streak has offered encouragement for the team, which next plays against Golden Valley on Thursday.

“We’re really confident because West Ranch has never beat Valencia or Hart, at least since I’ve been in the program,” Skabelund said.

“We’ve never been able to say we’re undefeated in league and that’s really exciting for us. It makes us confident but it makes us want to get better and win again to win league.”

Saugus, now 2-3 in league and 11-12 overall, continues play against Canyon next Thursday. Caitlin Liebe led the Cents with seven kills and six digs. Holly Piroli had 10 digs.

About the author

Haley Sawyer

Haley Sawyer

A Pennsylvania native, Haley Sawyer has covered sports across the country. She is a graduate of Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh and primarily covers Football, boys basketball, girls soccer and girls golf for The Signal.

Haley Sawyer

Haley Sawyer

A Pennsylvania native, Haley Sawyer has covered sports across the country. She is a graduate of Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh and primarily covers Football, boys basketball, girls soccer and girls golf for The Signal.