Volleyball runs in the families of Valencia senior Kelsey Knudsen and West Ranch senior Tasha Skabelund.
Both girls have older siblings who’ve won player of the year honors — whether it be for the Foothill League or the All-Santa Clarita Valley team. And the similarities between the two don’t stop there.
Both also play on the same club volleyball team during the summer, and, with league records of 9-1 respectively, both of their high school teams shared the Foothill League championship this season.
So appropriately enough, Knudsen and Skabelund will share the CIF-Southern Section Foothill League Player of the Year award.
“I’m so grateful for this. This is really exciting,” Knudsen said.
“That’s amazing. I feel so honored,” Skabelund said.
Valencia (17-13) and West Ranch (21-9-1) both had stellar years. Valencia captured its 14th Foothill League title in 15 years after starting the season 0-3 and losing reigning All-SCV Player of the Year Lauren Russ to injury. West Ranch meanwhile captured a share of its first Foothill League title ever.
Skabelund had 161 digs and 31 aces during the year. She also had 160 kills, 11 of which came in West Ranch’s 3-1 win over Saugus High on Oct. 25, a victory that clinched a share of the Foothill League crown.
West Ranch lost 3-0 to Agoura High in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 playoffs on Nov. 1. Valencia beat Harvard-Westlake 3-0 in the first round in Division 1 on Nov. 1, but lost 3-0 to Edison High to end its season two days later.
Skabelund said she wanted to win a league title heading into the year. She also said it’s been interesting competing against her friend Knudsen.
“We’ve never won league, and (Valencia has) been pretty dominant so it’s been interesting to try to compete against them,” Skabelund said. “It’s an accomplishment for sure.”
Knudsen recorded 46 aces and 67 assists to go along with a team-high 387 digs during the high school season.
She said Skabelund forces her to play better during club season because they don’t see each other often.
“I think she challenges me because we are friends, but we don’t see each other every day,” Knudsen said. “It’s just cool to challenge myself against someone I don’t always get to see.”
Volleyball runs in both families. Skabelund’s older brother Tanner Skabelund won All-SCV Player of the Year honors in 2013. After a two-year break from volleyball for a church mission trip to Santiago, Chile, he is now a redshirt freshman on the Brigham Young University men’s volleyball team.
Tasha Skabelund plans to play for California State University Bakersfield next year.
The game also runs through Knudsen’s veins. She said her parents met because of the game. Her dad Mark Knudsen serves as an assistant coach on girls volleyball team. He also is the head coach of Valencia’s girls beach volleyball team while his wife serves as an assistant coach.
Her older sisters Delaney and Lindsey won Foothill League Player of the Year honors in 2012 and 2014, respectively. Delaney Knudsen is now a senior beach volleyball player at Pepperdine. Lindsey Knudsen is a sophomore at Saint Mary’s College of California where Kelsey Knudsen plans to join her next year.
“I’m so excited,” Kelsey Knudsen said of playing with her sister. “It will be cool.”
Also named to the Foothill League’s first team were Valencia’s Bri Coleman and Kaelyn White, West Ranch’s Katie Jacobs and Kaitlin Schultz, Hart High’s Madi Fay and Makenna Fall, and Saugus High’s Caitlin Liebe.
Earning second team honors were Valencia’s Kiora Sanchez and Lauryn Shockley, West Ranch’s Allison Jacobs and Lauren Smith, Hart High’s Delaney Gibbs, Saugus High’s Holley Piroli and Canyon High’s Sasha Thomas Oakley.
Canyon sophomore Laska Stanford, Golden Valley freshman Jordan Nunez, Hart High sophomore Zoe DiNardo, Saugus junior Grace Ferguson, Valencia senior Kayla Konrad, and West Ranch sophomore Victoria Delorosario earned honorable mentions.