Three games into preleague, it looks as though Valencia volleyball is finally beginning to generate some chemistry. The Vikings swept Santa Barbara on Wednesday at Valencia for their first win of the season.
“We’re actually going from a low point and now we’re headed up high,” said middle blocker Macy Kirkwood. “We haven’t played as much as a team before but with all of our practicing with preseason and now coming into the season, we’re coming closer together and we’re just working so much better.”
Valencia (1-2) took a 3-1 lead to start the first game, then went on a 10-point scoring run that included six aces from Kaelyn White to jump ahead of the Dons 13-2.
White finished the match with eight aces total and the Vikes as a whole garnered a serving percentage of 88.2 percent.
“It was all about our placement of the ball and which targets we were serving to and kind of going short and deep and mixing it up,” said White.
The Vikings earned several points off of Santa Barbara errors and used their newfound chemistry on offense to take the first game 25-13.
Valencia went point-for-point with the Dons (0-3) to start Game 2 before gaining a three-point lead on a kill from Alyssa Grodell. Several Santa Barbara errors and an ace from Katelyn Pucci pulled the Vikings ahead 13-9. Macy Kirkwood punctuated the game with a kill for a 25-19 win.
Game 3 proved the most competitive as the Vikes switched up the rotation in order to get less experienced players time with veterans.
Santa Barbara was able to tie the game at 10-10 with an ace, but Valencia was able to retake a two-point lead after an error from the Dons and a tip from White. The Vikings were able to stay ahead until the end of the game.
The score was tied on three different occasions before Kirkwood was able to seal a win once again on a kill.
“We all believed that they can do it and the pressure on us, I feel like we didn’t cave in as much … we did get back from it and so the girls that did come in, they did their part, they worked well,” Kirkwood said. “We just pushed through at the end.”
Valencia has made several adjustments to the rotation since the graduation of outside hitters Lauryn Shockley, Lauren Russ and Jessica Throckmorton. White, who played setter/opposite last season, has made the move to outside in order to provide more power at the position.
“The most difficult part is passing because I’ve never had to pass in my volleyball career,” White said. “But I mean, it’s fun getting to learn a new skill and being able to practice something I haven’t done before.”
Up next for the Vikings is Thousand Oaks. Ahead of the Thursday-night matchup, the team is focusing up on passing and serve receive. Players have been coming an hour early to practice just to work on those areas.
“We’re just trying to improve all of our points,” Kirkwood said, “getting from bad techniques to good techniques and we’re just aiming the highest that we can.”