The Valencia volleyball team that beat Canyon 3-1 on Tuesday at Canyon was not the same team that lost to the Cowboys in five sets on Sept. 4.
“All of the above,” said Vikings coach Ray Sanchez on what his team improved on. “Really, everything across the board. Serving was better, passing was better, hitting is better.”
Valencia employed a new lineup and a different offensive system on Monday, but the team didn’t truly begin to get the hang of it until Tuesday. At least four different players are in new positions and several others were brought up from the JV ranks, including Kendall Thompson.
“Everyone gets along well and I feel through us being able to practice together, we’ve become a lot more in system and be able to try new things,” Thompson said. “Like today we ran a totally new offense which was really cool and we’ve been able to switch people different places and change positions.”
The Vikings (9-14 overall, 2-3 in Foothill League) were the first to score in Game 1 and never trailed. Canyon had a late rally in the game, but were never able to close the deficit to fewer than five points. Thompson capped the game with a kill for a 25-17 win.
Capitalizing on the momentum from the first frame, Valencia jumped out to a 9-2 lead in Game 2 and soon after increased the advantage to 12-3 after a block from Aly Grodell and Jaela Bernard and two aces from Avery Cop.
Thompson aced a serve later in the game to make it 23-13, which was followed by a block from Grodell and Macy Kirkwood. Thompson had another ace to win the game 25-13. The sophomore paced the team in both aces and kills with five and 13, respectively.
“When I did get pulled up (to varsity), it was like I was actually put there to make a difference,” Thompson said. “So I feel like that really motivated me throughout the season.”
Canyon (10-10, 1-5) and Valencia went point-for-point for nearly the entirety of the third game. The Cowboys Kyra Titner had three consecutive aces to create a 13-10 lead and the Vikings never caught up. Sasha Thomas-Oakley ended the game at 25-22 with a kill.
“They played good defense, so they make it hard for you and in that third game we had a little bit of a letdown on serve receive,” Sanchez said. “They took advantage and we just couldn’t’ catch up.”
The Vikings bounced back in the fourth game and kept ahead with quality hitting from myriad players. Grace Evans logged back-to-back kills for a 25-18 win. Evans finished the night with 10 kills.
Valencia next plays at Hart at 5:15 p.m. on Thursday. Canyon will be at Saugus on the same day at 5:30 p.m.
West Ranch 3, Saugus 2
Game scores were 23-25, 25-18, 25-16, 20-25 and 15-13.
Allison Jacobs led the Wildcats (7-11, 3-3) with 23 kills and 28 digs, followed by Sophie Bobal with 16 kills and 15 digs. Tyler Dobrowsky had eight kills, Alec Muira had 18 digs, Gwen Garate had 29 assists and Erin Eskoff had 25 assists.
Saugus moves to 14-8 and 4-2. West Ranch next plays Golden Valley at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Hart 3, Golden Valley 0
The Indians (10-3, 6-0) beat the Grizzlies (16-7, 1-4) 25-13, 25-21, 25-20 and were led by Ruby Duncan, who had 14 kills. Noelle Blumel had five aces and 27 digs and Kylie Mattson chipped in 28 assists.