There wasn’t much empty space below the oddly colored letters that read “Back to back LEAGUE CHAMPS.”
But after a 3-0 home win over Canyon High on Thursday night, West Ranch still could’ve inscribed “outright” somewhere below the orange and purple words plastered to a paper banner along a gym wall.
The Wildcats (17-5 overall, 9-0 in Foothill League) dominated game one (25-10), survived a never-ending game two (34-32) and put an exclamation point on what’s been a dominant run to a second-straight Foothill League title in game three (25-13).
“Oh my gosh, the energy was amazing,” said Wildcat Andrew Benser, whose team claimed at least a share of the title in Tuesday’s win over Hart. “We were hyped.”
Benser recorded six aces in the match, three coming consecutively in the middle of game one, when West Ranch pulled away almost from the beginning.
Benser employs a service style in which he tilts his head to the side before pounding the ball over the net with as much top spin as possible. He began employing the technique at the beginning of this school year, leaving a floating serve behind.
“It’s all about the top spin, that the No. 1 thing with the jump serve,” Benser said. “If you’re going to hit it hard, you have to have a lot of top spin.”
Serving, in fact, might be the strongest point of West Ranch’s attack this season.
“They take you out of system, and they’re so deadly from the service line. This is probably the best serving team I’ve seen from West Ranch,” said Canyon coach Jeff Cody, whose team continued to struggle in close games.
The Cowboys (4-14, 2-7) stormed back to tie game two 21-21, setting off a sequence of missed serves and missed opportunism for both teams.
The teams tied at 24-24 and eight more times before Amrit Kehal’s block finally gave the Wildcats the two-point win.
Coach Nate Sparks felt his team’s energy waned in the second game.
It didn’t in game three. The Wildcats took the lead for good at 5-4 and closed out the game, match and outright league title on another Kehal block.
Cameron Bertolett had 13 kills for West Ranch. Regan Marsh had 10 for Canyon.
Valencia 3, Golden Valley 0
David Chun had 13 kills for the Vikings (11-14, 6-3), who won by scores of 25-23, 25-17 and 25-18.
Golden Valley is 14-12-1 and 1-8.
Saugus 3, Hart 1
Gage Smith led the Centurions (13-8, 7-2) with 20 kills, while Steven Stanley had 38 assists.
Dawson Preston had three blocks, and Luke White had 13 digs.
Game scores were 25-19, 25-17, 24-26 and 25-20. Hart is 10-10 overall and 2-7 in league.