Going point-for-point to begin the first game, Saugus boys volleyball visited Golden Valley in a gritty must-win match for both teams on Thursday.
Holding a narrow 10-9 lead, Saugus sophomore Daniel Compton took matters into his own hands, delivering three aces over the course of the next seven serves to catapult the Cents to a 17-9 lead and the first game win, 25-18.
“I had a rough serving game the last two games,” Compton said. “This game I was just dialed in and wanted to keep it in for the first three guys to get on a roll and put on some more pace.”
The Cents took the second game and Golden Valley rallied, but fell short in four games as Saugus won 25-18, 25-13, 20-25, 27-25.
A match full of momentum swings, Saugus (6-7 overall, 1-2 in Foothill League) carried the tactful play into the second game following Compton’s lead.
Evan Lambert sparked Saugus to three-straight points forcing Golden Valley (6-8-1, 0-3) to call a timeout down 14-8.
“Daniel and Evan are huge,” said Saugus coach Max Nua. “They are two young guys, both of them are sophomores and we are looking for big things from them. Tonight they really stepped up and they were able to kind of carry the team with their drive.”
The Cents would never look back, winning the second set handily on back-to-back aces by Tim Kempler.
Picking up where he left off, Compton began the third game with three straight aces to give Saugus a 3-0 lead.
Compton finished the game with nine aces, 14 kills and 11 digs.
Golden Valley’s Russell Karimee dove toward the Grizzlies’ bench trying to keep his team in the game behind 5-2.
Sparking a comeback, the Grizzlies used Karimee’s effort as motivation to climb back within one point down 8-7.
Dominic Villani, Caleb Watson and Karimee delivered aces on a 13-3 Golden Valley run to go up 15-11, forcing Saugus to call a timeout.
“I love the support man, ” said Golden Valley coach Sam Hand. “I love the support. On the court, I just love when people are happy to see other people succeed. I think that’s really infectious and I think this team plays so much better with smiles on their faces. When they are up, they are up big and it’s just fun volleyball to watch.”
Saugus kept it close getting within two points, but just couldn’t close the gap dropping the third game.
Down 7-3 in the fourth game, the Grizzlies rattled off four points in a row to tie the game at 7-7.
Cameron Mudgett assisted on a Kempler kill and retook the lead for Saugus at 8-7.
Kempler led Saugus with a game-high 20 kills, seven digs and three aces.
“Their energy was huge,” Nua said. “Anytime I brought them out of a timeout they never hung their heads and looked defeated. They were ready to make changes and go after it every play. It was huge.”
Saugus held a two-point lead for much of the fourth game until the Grizzlies led by Karimee and senior setter Gage Pierce teamed up and gave Golden Valley its first lead of the game 19-18.
Neither team wanted to give an inch, battling back and forth with neither team going up by more than two points.
The Grizzlies tied the game at 24-24, but Saugus answered with another Kempler kill and wound up winning the game and the match on a Golden Valley hitting error to capture its first Foothill League win of the season.
“It’s obvious that no game is given and we have to want it more than anyone else,” said Hand. “Not just more than the people across the net, but in the entire league. We have always had something to prove and today we showed glimpses a little too late. It’s a good game to learn from and a good place to be to improve.”
Both teams are back in action on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. as Saugus heads on the road to Valencia and Golden Valley hosts Canyon.
Hart 3, Canyon 0
The Indians (11-5-1, 3-0) won their third Foothill League game of the season after taking down Canyon (12-9, 1-2) in three: 25-13, 25-15, 25-17.
Hart senior Gavin Leising finished with 14 kills and six blocks in an all-around team effort.
Hart will host West Ranch on Tuesday with the time to be determined.