In one swift swing of his mighty left arm, Andrew Johnson provided the fifth-game production Valencia needed.
As he pushed out his chest and yelled, he provided the fire and passion coach Kevin Kornegay asked from his guys as they attempted to fend off a Canyon team that wouldn’t go away.
Johnson’s kill was one of six he recorded in the match-sealing fifth-game victory, the Vikings winning 3-2 by game scores of 25-19, 25-22, 19-25, 21-25 and 15-11.
“I think we realized that we weren’t as good as (we thought) we were,” Johnson said. “We had that mentality that we could just come in and blow (them) over.”
Canyon (3-11 overall, 1-4 in Foothill League) stormed back in games three and four to force a final game to 15.
In the huddle before the fifth game, Valencia decided it wouldn’t let this one get away.
“Coach just looked at us,” recalled Johnson, “and said, ‘You’re giving this away. You’re not trying, not showing any emotion. … We need to come together and play our game.’”
Johnson finished the match with nine kills. Connor Ruffner led the way for Valencia (9-12, 4-1) with 14.
Shea Stanford had 19 kills for Canyon. Regan Marsh had 13 digs, and Jackson Edwards had 43 assists as the Cowboys pushed Valencia to the brink.
It was, in some ways, a story of the Cowboys’ Foothill League season to this point. They’ve tested just about everyone but come away with only one win.
“If we could have played like we played tonight against any other team,” said Canyon coach Jeff Cody, “it would be a completely different season for us right now.”
The Vikings now have four Foothill wins, but that means they’re still looking up at 5-0 West Ranch.
“You come in with Valencia having been such a storied program,” Johnson said, “and you say, ‘Oh, we’re first.’ Now, we realize we’re second. We have something to prove.”
West Ranch 3, Saugus 1
Michael Flores (22 kills) and Cameron Bertolett (15 kills) led the Wildcats (11-3, 5-0), who won by scores of 25-18, 25-14, 21-25 and 25-14 at home Thursday.
Saugus is 9-8 overall and 3-2 in league.
Hart 3, Golden Valley 0
Dylan Lange led the way with 15 kills for Hart (6-5, 2-3), which won by game scores of 25-17, 25-22 and 25-17 Thursday night at Golden Valley (13-9-1, 0-5).