After giving up eight consecutive points against Golden Valley in a game that could potentially conclude a sweep, West Ranch volleyball had to remind itself what it’s capable of.
“We’ve played great volleyball up until this point,” Wildcats coach Jamey Ker told his team during a time out. “Don’t let what’s happened recently freak you out. Think about what’s happened the last two sets and how great we played.”
After the words of encouragement, the Cats went on to win the set and sweep the Grizzlies at West Ranch on Thursday. The win marked the team’s third consecutive Foothill League victory after beating Canyon the week prior and upsetting Saugus, the No. 2 team in league, on Tuesday.
“Knowing that Saugus was second, just totally changed our mindset as a team,” said the Wildcats’ Gwen Garate. “It just built our confidence to play the harder teams.”
West Ranch (8-11 overall, 4-3 in Foothill League) got to work early in the first game, then went on a six-point scoring run capped by an Allison Jacobs tip to win 25-12.
The Grizzlies (16-7, 1-5) gained an early 6-3 lead in Game 2, but gave up six points to enable a 9-7 Wildcat advantage.
Alex Muira, who finished the night with six kills, kept the Cats in it with two floaters, an ace and a kill in the following minutes, but a gritty Golden Valley defense thwarted any hopes of an easy win for West Ranch. Reinyel Leonidas, in particular, had several digs that kept crucial rallies alive.
“I can’t say enough about my libero,” said Grizzlies coach Jack Johnson. “She doesn’t care how hard you hit the ball, she’s going to hang in there and somehow get the ball up. Like some of those, I have no idea. It’s almost like it’s instinctual.”
West Ranch was able to finish off the game 25-22, however and keep the momentum going into Game 3 to gain a quick 8-3 advantage with back-to-back kills from Jacobs.
Stepping on the gas pedal, Golden Valley came within two points of tying the game with an attack spearheaded by Jordan Nunez.
“She is one of the smartest players, if not the smartest player that I’ve ever coached,” Johnson said of Nunez. “She knows not just where she’s supposed to be and what she’s supposed to be doing, but she knows what other people are supposed to be doing.”
The Wildcats recovered from the blunder that allowed eight Golden Valley points to take the final game 25-22 with a tip from Alicia Zimmerman and complete the sweep.
West Ranch next plays on Thursday at Valencia at 5:30. The Grizzlies are at Valencia on Wednesday at 5:30.
Hart 3, Valencia 0
The Indians remain undefeated in league after beating the Vikings 25-15, 25-15, 25-7. Shelby Grubbs led the team with 13 kills and eight blocks. Kylie Mattson chipped in 34 assists, Noelle Blumel logged 15 digs and Zoe DiNardo had nine kills.
Hart moves to 12-3 and 7-0 and plays at Canyon on Thursday at 5:15. Valencia is 8-16 and 1-5.
Saugus 3, Canyon 0
The Centurions completed the sweep with scores of 26-24, 25-22, 25-12. Kayla Tait had 14 kills and 13 digs. Jackie Ibarra chipped in nine kills and Rhiannon Body had 13 digs.
Saugus is now 15-8 overall and 5-2 in league, while Canyon is 11-10 and 2-5.
SCCS 3, Faith Baptist 2
The Cardinals won with game scores of 25-19, 23-25, 25-22, 15-25, 15-10. SCCS moves into a tie for first place in the Heritage League with an overall record of 11-4-1 and a league record of 6-1.
The Cards play Trinity Classical Academy on Tuesday at 5 p.m. at The Master’s University.