The last time Canyon and Saugus highs met in boys volleyball, a CIF playoff spot was on the line and junior Gage Smith was in the bleachers.
“I wanted to play with them so bad,” Smith, a junior varsity player for Saugus last season, said of the Centurions’ sweep of Canyon in the regular-season finale.
Smith made the most of his opportunity in Thursday’s Foothill League opener, recording a team-high 13 kills in the Centurions’ 3-1 win over the host Cowboys.
Game scores were 25-21, 25-23, 24-26, 25-17.
In the fourth game, the score rested at 16-16 before Saugus (1-0 in Foothill) closed the match on a 9-1 run.
That was the story of the night for Canyon (1-6, 0-1).
The Cowboys kept it close, but Saugus proved to have a better endgame.
“I can’t complain,” said Canyon coach Jeff Cody. “I look at the match, I look at the stats, and it looks good. Saugus played really well. They had a great game tonight. Everything they touched was up in the air and in a good location, too.”
Canyon’s Shea Stanford recorded a game-high 15 kills. Regan Marsh followed with 12.
Cowboy setter Jackson Edwards dished out 33 assists. Steven Stanley had 34 assists for the Centurions. Teammate Matt Denkinger had 10 kills, while Victor Ramirez and Stephen Jones had seven each.
Saugus coach Barry Nua felt that Ramirez and Jones continued to progress in their roles as middle blockers.
“I was happy with what they did,” he said.
Nua added that Thursday’s game didn’t feature any extra intensity after the Centurions beat Canyon 3-0 in the 2016 Foothill League finale to finish one win ahead of the Cowboys for the third and final automatic playoff berth.
“Not really,” he said. “The turnover in high school is so big that nobody knows or remembers what happened the year before, so not really. Especially with these guys. It’s just another game.”
“If something were to happen here,” Nua said, “when we come around again maybe there could be that.”
The teams will meet again on April 18 at Saugus.
West Ranch 3, Golden Valley 0
Michael Flores posted 14 kills for the Wildcats (7-3, 1-0). Game scores were not immediately available.
Valencia 3, Hart 0
The Vikings (3-8, 1-0) won by game scores of 25-17, 25-19, 25-21. Hart is 4-3 and 0-1.