Saugus volleyball went on the road on Thursday evening to begin the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 playoffs against Notre Dame Academy of Los Angeles.
The Regal Gryphons used home court to their advantage and swept the Centurions 20-25, 21-25, 15-25.
“Notre Dame caught fire and they just hit some hard balls and put us in a lot of pressure situations and had a couple good bounces,” said Saugus coach Zach Ambrose. “They had home court advantage, a low ceiling and they played that to their advantage. We struggled adapting to that.”
Notre Dame (18-13 overall) also had several very tall players that caused difficulties for the Centurions, particularly in the middle. Saugus (20-13) attempted to compensate with serving, but Notre Dame had the edge physically and gained multi-point leads that the Cents struggled to come back from.
“We were able to tie it up and that’s when we were able to execute the game plan,” Ambrose said. “In the end, they scored a couple more points and a couple rotations we got stuck.”
Jackie Ibarra had eight kills and 12 digs on the evening. Amira Fann logged 14 assists and four blocks and Jessica Nash chipped in nine assists.
Kayla Tait led the Cents, who finished second in the Foothill League, with 13 kills and 20 digs. Tait provided leadership and skill almost everywhere on the court, breaking the program’s single-season digs record with 501.
“Doesn’t matter how good the opponent was, she was able to step up and she put up almost the same numbers every single time she played,” Ambrose said.
Saugus will have six returning varsity players next season, which has Ambrose excited about future possibilities.
“I think this season really gave them a foundation of how hard they have to work and I think a lot of people didn’t have us picked for second place,” he said. “We never let that stuff peg you in a hole. We were always able to overcome that and a lot by outworking the other teams.”