Valencia girls volleyball secures share of title

Lauryn Shockley (11) and her Valencia High School teammates celebrate after winning 3 - 0 against Canyon at Valencia on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016. Dan Watson/The Signal

Valencia High girls volleyball didn’t labor through Tuesday’s 3-0 home win over Canyon High.

However, the victory — by scores of 25-14, 25-13, 25-13 — secured a share of the Foothill League title and capped a regular season in which the Vikings overcame an earthshaking injury, navigated team chemistry issues and rebounded from a slow start.

The level of difficulty, coach Ray Sanchez said, made the program’s 14th title in 15 years all the sweeter.

“It has felt like a struggle,” said Sanchez, whose team started the year 0-3 and lost reigning All-SCV Player of the Year Lauren Russ for the year due to an injury in August, “so it is more rewarding. When things fall into place and it’s easy, you enjoy it, it’s fun, but it may not be as rewarding.”

PHOTOS: Valencia defeats Canyon for share of league title

Momentum started swinging Valencia’s way after a Nov. 20 loss to West Ranch (the team Valencia ended up sharing the title with).

“We had a come-to-Jesus kind of moment,” Sanchez said.

No such crisis was necessary Tuesday.

Valencia (16-12 overall, 9-1 in league) used a 10-2 run in game one to turn a 7-7 tie into a 17-9 lead. Kayla Konrad ended the game with a sharp kill. The Vikings built a 6-0 lead in game two and never trailed.

Another big run in game three, this one 14-0, pulled Valencia out of a shallow 4-3 hole and into a 17-4 advantage.

It all added up to Valencia’s fourth straight sweep in league play.

Valencia's Toni Bito (50) puts a shot over the net against Canyon's Sasha Thomas Oakley (10) and Katelyn Leidholdt (8) at Valencia on Tuesday. Dan Watson/The Signal
Valencia’s Toni Bito (50) puts a shot over the net against Canyon’s Sasha Thomas Oakley (10) and Katelyn Leidholdt (8) at Valencia on Tuesday. Dan Watson/The Signal
“We had a little bit of a confidence issue at the beginning of the year,” said Valencia senior Bri Coleman, who finished with a match-high 11 kills. “That Hart game (a 3-2 Vikings win on Oct. 6) opened our eyes that we needed to step it up. (We thought), ‘We can be taking these teams in three.’”

Valencia beat West Ranch in three games two weeks ago to position itself for yet another title. Tuesday the Vikings closed in on the crown.

Valencia freshman Kaelyn White had seven kills, Kelsey Knudsen had 10 digs, and Kiora Sanchez had 15 assists.

Sasha Thomas Oakley led Canyon (2-8 in league) with five kills, while Denali Lyons followed with four.

Cowboys coach Robert Treahy called the match disappointing, but he said it was part of a season focused on changing the program’s culture.

“It was a learning process,” Treahy said.

The CIF-Southern Section playoff brackets will be released Friday at 2 p.m.

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