By Jon Stein
For The Signal
West Ranch boys volleyball coach Brandon Johnson had a game plan for this season, and it paid dividends in Wednesday’s 3-0 Foothill League victory over Valencia.
That game plan involved moving senior outside hitter Griffith Peters to the right side, where Johnson knew his offensive firepower would be lethal.
The move was highlighted Wednesday at Valencia High School, as Peters led the team with 17 kills, including a game-winner in the second game that put West Ranch in a strong position for an eventual 25-22, 25-15, 25-16 win.
“Griff might have been the best player on the court today,” Johnson said. “Moving him to the right side this year I knew it was his senior year, he knew outside hitter would be his position. He might have been reluctant right away, but once I showed him what he could do on the right side he really took off. He was unstoppable tonight — I don’t even know how many balls they even slowed down.”
Valencia held their own early, though, pushing West Ranch to the limit in the first game.
Coming off a 5-1 weekend at the Easter Invitational Volleyball Tournament, it appeared the Vikings momentum might continue into Wednesday night’s action.
Within 23-22 in game 1, however, a Vikings’ service error put the Wildcats one point away from a 1-0 lead, and Zack Drake was happy to do the honors scoring the winning kill.
The Vikings continued to battle, but never lead in the second game, despite an impressive performance on the night from senior Cameron Graves, who led with 11 kills.
“We knew what they were going to do; come with a lot of firepower form the middle and a lot of firepower from the inside,” Johnson said of the Valencia offense. “What we needed to do is we needed to serve tough and get them out of system. The first set we started very slow.”
Once the Wildcats settled down, they began to take control, picking up two key digs on consecutive possessions midway through the third game that led to kills from Peters and Andrew Benser, and a 16-10 lead.
Benser would finish with 12 kills, while senior Tyson Drake, the team’s only returning starter in 2018, led with 25 assists.
Zack Soule would tip home the match winner.
“We don’t let up,” Johnson said. “We have an idea in our head that we fight for every single point. It doesn’t matter what the score is, we’re going to continue to have a game plan and fight as hard as we can to execute the game plan. We want to get better every time we touch the ball.