The phrase “a close sweep” may seem like an oxymoron in volleyball, but that’s exactly what happened between Saugus and West Ranch in the Foothill League season opener on Wednesday at Saugus.
The Centurions swept the Wildcats on the evening and got out to a smooth start, winning the first game 25-13. Saugus went on a six-point run to close out the set on a high note.
Game 2 is when things got interesting. For one, West Ranch’s Allison Jacobs switched from libero to outside hitter. The UCLA commit has been bouncing between the two positions due to back pain.
“We lost the first set and so we put her in the front row, but even then you could tell she wasn’t her normal Allison for sure,” said Cats coach Jamey Ker.
Several other West Ranch players stepped up, however, to compensate for their weakened teammate and kept the game close. The two teams went point-for-point until Saugus captured a 20-17 lead.
The Wildcats (0-7) fought back by scoring four consecutive points that included a kill from Erin Eskoff and back-to-back tips from Jacobs.
Saugus (6-4) was able to recover, however, and nabbed four straight points to close out the game.
“Definitely our serving,” said Cents outside hitter Kayla Tait. “Even though West Ranch didn’t miss that many serves either, I think we really hit our spots and came out really tough on the serves and that’s what had us come out with the win that set.”
The close competition continued into the third game. West Ranch took a 5-1 lead to open the stanza, capped by a kill from Sophie Bobal. The Cats stayed out front until the Centurions took a 13-12 lead on the other side of a time out.
The Wildcats’ attack came in waves, but Saugus was consistently able to battle back. Jackie Ibarra silenced any hopes of a West Ranch comeback with a kill to end Game 3 at 25-22.
“Amazing. We were so close and it was just the best feeling,” Ibarra said of the kill.
Ibarra ranked second on the team in terms of kills with eight. Tait was first with 10 kills and tacked on four aces.
“She’s the most experienced player we have,” said Saugus coach Zach Ambrose of Tait. “She’s a good leader on the court for us. Leads by example, goes after everything, works harder than anybody else and it’s paying off for her this year in many facets.”
For West Ranch, Jacobs logged eight kills and 14 digs, while Bobal added seven kills and 10 digs. Elena Sarieddine had four blocks.
The Centurions continue league play tonight at Canyon. The Wildcats play tonight at Golden Valley. Both matches begin at 5:30 p.m.
Canyon 3, Valencia 2
The Cowboys opened up league play with a win. Game scores were 17-25, 25-17, 12-25, 23-25, 15-12.
Sasha Thomas-Oakley was “unstoppable,” according to Cowboys coach Robert Treahy and ranked first in kills. Kyra Titner led in blocks, Laska Stanford in assists and Skylar Sabetta in digs.
Jaela Bernard led the Vikings with 10 kills and Aly Grodell followed with nine. Kaelyn White chipped in a team-leading 16 digs.