A three-hour bus ride may have delayed Valencia boys volleyball’s arrival to Vista Murrieta in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 tournament, but the Vikings wasted no time getting started as they edged the Mustangs 3-2 on Thursday.
Valencia earned a quick 25-13 win in Game 1, then kept rolling into a 25-15 win in Game 2.
In the third stanza, however, the Vikes (24-11) let off the gas as Vista Murrieta jumped out to an early lead. Valencia couldn’t respond, as errors littered the game and gave the Mustangs a 25-22 win.
“We dominated the first two games, they didn’t know what hit them,” said Valencia coach Kevin Kornegay. “There’s no way we’re losing Game 3 the way we’re playing. We started making some errors and they did enough siding out and scoring that they took away Game 3.”
Vista Murrieta (19-13) won the fourth game 26-24 to force a fifth and final game.
Middles Dorian Ellis and Connor Ruffner were a force for the Vikings in the following frame, as the Mustangs were blocking with only one middle. Aaron Erskin aided the pair, logging 53 assists in the game.
Ellis finished with 14 kills and Ruffner chipped in 17 on the night as Valencia pulled away with a 15-6 victory in the last game.
“There was some stress at the end, but we could win game five,” Kornegay said. “We pulled away early and never looked back. It’s good to be tested like that and be taken to five, to know that you can’t just think it’s over after two games.”
Junior Tyler Clyde picked up 16 digs in his first varsity playoff appearance. Libero Jacob Knudsen logged 18 digs and Erskin added 11 digs. Cameron Graves led the team in kills with 22.
Valencia proceeds to the Division 2 quarterfinals and will play Mission Viejo on Saturday.
Orange Lutheran 3, Hart 0
Wyatt Bates and Gavin Leising led with eight kills apiece in the Indians’ final game of the season. Dylan Lange added seven kills and Alex Schmidt tacked on six.
Hart finishes the season 15-14-1 overall after a third-place finish in the Foothill League.