It happens at least once in just about every match.
A team’s setter, positioned sideways beside the net, poised to assist an attacking teammate, takes matters into his own hands.
Saugus’ Steven Stanley watched the ball as it fell toward him Tuesday, then directed it straight at the net.
The sneak attack hit the top of the boundary and fell over onto the head of an unsuspecting Canyon player and onto the ground.
Saugus coach Barry Nua feels his team is teetering between solid-postseason-contender and non-playoff-caliber-squad.
Stanley’s kill gave Saugus a three-point lead early in a game five it would win by five, clinching the home match 3-2 and falling, at least for a night, onto the right side of Nua’s fine line.
Game scores were 28-30, 25-15, 21-25, 25-22 and 15-10.
“We’re right on the verge of ‘we could be good or we could be not so good,’” Nua said. “Our whole goal here is one point at a time and one game at a time.”
The Centurions (10-8 overall, 4-2 in Foothill League) found themselves in a must-win game after falling behind in the match 2-1.
Canyon (3-12, 1-5) led 4-1 early in game four, but Saugus later took an 8-7 lead it never gave back.
The Cowboys closed within 23-22, but Stephen Jones recorded one of his 12 kills to stretch the lead to two and a Canyon attacking error ended the game.
In game five, a Saugus attacking error cut its lead to 13-10, but the Centurions scored the final two points (including a Canyon net violation on the final point) to secure the match.
Saugus’s Gage Smith, who finished with 20 kills, said the key was serving.
“When we got our serves,” Smith said, “we got some momentum. We were in control of the game.”
Shea Stanford racked up 20 kills for the Cowboys in another competitive league loss.
“We’re right there with everybody,” said Canyon coach Jeff Cody, “and we just mentally can’t do it.”
Regan Marsh had 14 kills for Canyon, while teammate Jackson Edwards had 48 assists.
Stanley had 49 assists.
West Ranch 3, Golden Valley 0
Game scores were 25-13, 25-14, 25-20. Michael Flores led the Wildcats (12-3, 6-0) with 13 kills.
Golden Valley is 13-10-1 overall and 0-6 in league.
Valencia 3, Hart 0
Game scores were 28-26, 25-19, 25-17. Andrew Johnson had nine kills for Valencia (10-12, 5-1).
Hart is 6-6 and 2-4.