West Ranch High’s Michael Flores left the floor with more than just a spike to block.
As the senior outside sent the ball back onto Valencia’s side Thursday, he stopped Andrew Johnson’s offensive tear, he ended the match and he stonewalled the Vikings’ hopes of climbing into a share of first place with three Foothill League matches to go.
Flores finished with a team-high 13 kills in West Ranch’s 3-0 road win by scores of 26-24, 25-13 and 27-25.
But most memorable might have been the attack he turned back.
“It was definitely a statement play for Michael right there,” said West Ranch assistant coach Drew Sims, who filled in for Nate Sparks while the head coach was away with club commitments.
And it came in a statement win. The Wildcats (13-3 overall, 7-0 in Foothill League) had cruised through Foothill League play (18-2 in games) entering Thursday’s match against arguably the biggest road block to a repeat title.
Valencia (10-13, 5-2) looked the part in game one, where a 9-0 West Ranch run put the Wildcats in front 11-5. But the Vikings battled back to tie the score 21-21, 23-23 and 24-24.
Boys v-ball: Michael Flores’ block gives West Ranch 27-25 win in G3 for sweep of Valencia. Cats are 7-0 in Foothill. pic.twitter.com/b77AmkhskX
— Mason Nesbitt (@mason_nesbitt) April 21, 2017
It wasn’t enough.
West Ranch scored the final two points – then rattled off the first seven of game two.
Cameron Bertolett had three kills in the sequence. Flores had a kill and an ace, and the Wildcats never let Valencia back in the game.”
“We picked up the energy a lot more,” Sims said of game two – something he couldn’t say about game three.
Oppositely, Johnson provided a spark for the Vikings. He had seven of his 11 kills in the final frame, capped by an attack that gave Valencia a 25-24 lead.
But Valencia’s second straight service error tied the score. Tyson Drake’s kill gave West Ranch a one-point lead. Then Johnson rose and swung. And Flores denied.
“I stood in my normal block routine,” Flores said, “and was able to get it exactly where I wanted. I just pressed where I thought he was going to swing, and it worked.”_
Flores has reached double digit kills in each of West Ranch’s league games (he had 15 in a sweep of Valencia on March 28).
Bertolett and Derek Seo each chipped in 10 kills Thursday, while Drake had 34 assist and five kills.
West Ranch plays Hart on Tuesday, while Valencia travels to Saugus.
“We have to beat Saugus, take care of business with them,” said Valencia coach Kevin Kornegay, later adding, “That match becomes huge.”
Canyon 3, Hart 1
Game scores were 25-27, 25-21, 25-19, 25-22 on Thursday night at Canyon. For Canyon (4-12, 2-5), Esquivel Ramirez had 14 kills and Shea Stanford had four aces.
Wyatt Bates led Hart (6-7, 2-5) with 16 kills.
Saugus 3, Golden Valley 1
Game scores were 24-26, 25-20, 25-21, 26-24. Gage Smith led the Centurions (11-8, 5-2) with 18 kills, while Steven Stanley had 48 assists.
Luke White had 11 digs. Victor Ramirez had six blocks. And Dawson Preston had six aces.
Golden Valley is 13-11 overall and 0-7 in league.