SCCS volleyball advances in five-game nail-biter

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For the second time in two CIF-Southern Section Division 9 playoff matches, the Santa Clarita Christian girls volleyball team played in a five-game match, this time against Oakwood of North Hollywood.

And for the second time in two playoff matches, they prevailed.

Thursday night’s game scores were 16-25, 22-25, 25-21, 25-19 and 15-12.

The Cardinals will play at Capistrano Valley Christian on Saturday at noon in the quarterfinals.

“It’s not just based on skill, it’s also based on how long you can keep going and have good solid hits and good digs,” said Kalona Marr, who led the Cardinals in kills with 19. “So it’s not really about skill as much as it is about how much you can keep going and how much you put on the table for your team.”

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The Cardinals (11-9-1) struggled to find their groove in Games 1 and 2. Miscommunication and positioning problems caused the team to trail throughout the first, and give up a four-point lead in the second.

But in Game 3, SCCS decided it wouldn’t succumb to the pressure, partly thanks to a pep talk from a former Navy SEAL who helps train the team in his spare time.

“Losing the first two and then winning the next three, that’s a huge mental thing for us that we were able to really come out and stay focused as a team,” said SCCS coach Darcy Brown. “These girls have really been working hard on kind of the whole ‘never-say-die’ kind of attitude and leaving nothing behind.”

The Cards and Gorillas had a tightly contested final three games, but SCCS didn’t give up a lead once.

Five players on the SCCS squad were in double digits in at least one statistical category.

Vanessa Cardenas had 25 assists, Kenzie Kennedy had 11 assists and Kaleigh Moss had 25 digs. Marr was second behind Moss with 19 digs.

“I really feel we have a team that really works together — that everybody does their part — and I think that’s what makes us stronger especially in the long run,” Brown said.

Although the team was quick to celebrate the win, it didn’t hesitate to acknowledge its slow start.

“We need to work on starting out really strong and finishing the ball well,” Marr said. “We struggled the first two games to really come out and play, so just that we would start strong and end strong and finish the ball.”

The Cardinals’ quarterfinal match will be against Capistrano Valley Christian, who swept Vasquez Thursday evening, on the road on Saturday.

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