On Thursday night, Valencia volleyball celebrated in its bright, excited home gym flooded with purple and littered with a dispersed, but still rowdy, student section.
Just outside the walls of the gym, Hart left under cover of darkness, most players staring at the pavement.
About 15 minutes prior, the Vikings swept the Indians and stomped Hart’s dreams of an undefeated season. Earlier in the league season, the Indians beat the Vikes 3-2.
“Victory is pretty sweet, to be honest, we worked really hard these past few weeks since we lost (to Hart) and I think all our preparation showed,” said Valencia senior Lo Russ.
The Vikings (14-5 overall, 6-1 in Foothill League) ran away with a 25-19 win in Game 1 and had a similar result in the second game. They got points on the board early, and only gave up the lead once.
The 25-17 game was capped by a block from Macy Kirkwood, who was making her first varsity appearance.
“(We) put her in the middle and she made a huge impact for that,” said Valencia coach Ray Sanchez.
“…I told the kids a million times, there’s absolutely no reason that we’re not a really good defensive team, but we haven’t been. And so we really made it a priority to become a better defensive team and it’s starting to come around.”
Kirkwood ended the night tied for first on the team with Jess Throckmorton with three blocks. She also added seven kills, the second best out of all Vikings.
The Indians (14-9, 6-1) battled to a 9-4 lead in the third game, but struggled to stay ahead. The two teams went point-for-point until a handful of errors gave Valencia a boost. Alyssa Grodell’s kill ended the game at 25-19.
“A lot of times the fear of making errors gets in their head and they end up being more passive with their hitting,” said Hart coach Mary Irilian. “We keep preaching to be aggressive and go after it, which is what Valencia did.”
With the win, the Vikes are tied with the Indians for first place in the Foothill League.
Russ led Valencia with 11 kills. Kaelyn White had 29 assists and Lauryn Shockley had 17 digs.
For Hart, Zoe DiNardo had 11 kills, while Kylie Mattson added 23 assists and Makenna Fall totaled 19 digs.
West Ranch 3, Golden Valley 1
The Wildcats won with game scores of 26-14, 22-25, 25-17, 26-24. Gwen Garate had five aces and Allison Jacobs had 23 kills. Sophie Bobal added seven kills and Tyler Dobrowsky had five.
West Ranch moves to 11-11 overall and 4-3 in league. The Grizzlies are 4-13 and 0-6.
Saugus 3, Canyon 0
The Cents took the match 25-13, 25-16, 25-15. Kayla Tait had 10 kills and nine digs. Caitlin Liebe added nine kills and Holly Piroli had 10 digs. Gabby Scheisser topped the team with 27 assists and five aces.
Saugus is 12-8 and 4-3, while Canyon is 5-7 and 0-6.