It was a quick and almost curt coronation.
With an opening serve, West Ranch volleyball said hello, and with every Michael Flores or Cameron Bertolett kill, it shoved Hart further and further away.
The Wildcats beat the Indians 3-0 on the road Tuesday – 25-12, 25-15, 25-16 – to claim at least a share of the Foothill League title for the second straight season.
It’s the first back-to-back titles in program history, secured on Andrew Benser’s kill to end game five.
Subdued celebration ensued before the Wildcats (14-3 overall, 8-0 in Foothill) huddled for a postgame talk.
“We’re excited – (it was) just a little anti-climactic,” said West Ranch coach Nate Sparks of his team’s demeanor, later adding, “As of right now, it’s only a share, and we want to be sole champions. Our two goals coming into league were to be Foothill League champions and be sole possessors of it.”
The Wildcats’ title-clinching win last season also lacked drama.
West Ranch beat Canyon 3-0 to earn at least a share of their first crown since 2013. It went on to win the title outright, finishing 10-0.
This season’s path toward perfection now goes through Canyon and Saugus, two teams that each stole a game off the Wildcats during the first round of league play.
“Going into those (matches), we were a little complacent,” Bertolett said, “so we learned from those games.”
Bertolett finished with seven kills, Flores had eight kills and Peter Patag had 13 assists.
Connor Bertolett had a team-high eight digs.
Alex Schmidt and Wyatt Bates co-led Hart with six kills each.
“Alex is a gamer,” said Hart coach Jeannie Brauninger, “so when he shows up to practice or shows up to the match, his objective is always to win.”
It’s something Hart has done considerably more of this season. Even at 2-6 in league, the Indians still sit above .500 overall at 11-9.
According to MaxPreps, the Indians won just one match in 2016. They will look to close the 2017 regular season strong against Saugus and Golden Valley.
Saugus 3, Valencia 1
The Centurions took a major step toward securing second place in league with game wins of 25-19, 25-14, 19-25 and 25-22.
Gage Smith led Saugus (12-8, 6-2) with 19 kills, while Luke White added eight digs and Steven Stanley added 31 assists.
Cent Dawson Preston had five aces and five blocks.
Dorian Ellis had 10 kills for Valencia (10-14, 5-3), and Cameron Graves had seven.
Golden Valley 3, Canyon 2
The Grizzlies earned their first win of Foothill League play. Regan Marsh had 13 kills for the Cowboys (4-13, 2-6).
Golden Valley is 14-11-1 overall and 1-7 in league.