By Jason Greenwald
For The Signal
Valencia and Hart boys volleyball clashed for second place in the Foothill League and the opportunity to remain within striking distance of West Ranch, which is currently at the top of the leaderboard.
The red-hot Vikings (9-10 overall, 5-2 in Foothill League) continued their win streak against the Indians, sweeping all three games for the victory: 25-18, 25-23, 25-21.
“We’ve been emphasizing since Tuesday’s lackluster performance to try and keep the energy up,” said Valencia head coach Kevin Kornegay. “I’m a firm believer that the team with the most energy is going to win. The best thing I liked today was the team’s energy.”
Valencia did exactly what their coached asked in Game 1, showing an abundance of energy on the court for an early 5-1 lead.
Junior Jacob Knudsen seemed to find every gap in Hart’s defense, thumping a number of momentum-building kills. Knudsen had a huge day for the Vikings, collecting 12 kills and four digs.
The Indians (12-8-1, 4-3) had trouble in game one with serving, but were able to overcome early mistakes and rally the score to 15-19 behind Ezra Moore, who had eight kills, four digs and 11 assists.
Game 1 finished with with Valencia scoring the last six out of nine points, winning 25-18, and bringing Hart’s late push to an end.
“We didn’t do our best making adjustments on the fly today. Everytime we fixed one error, other errors would pop up, and we couldn’t make the adjustments fast enough,” said Hart head coach Loy Mueller. “We just came out to a slow start. When we decided to start swinging, it was too late.”
Game 2 embarked with the Indians shaking off their faults from game one, with an early 7-2 lead. The Vikings were now the team making mistakes, littering the court with errors and missed serves.
“In Game 2 we struggled. We had a lot of errors and hitting the ball out of bounds or into the net,” said Kornegay.
Behind junior Devin Williams, who is filling been filling in for a sick teammate, Valencia was able to bring the score back and tie Hart at 18-18 through textbook communication.
After crawling back against Hart, senior Dorian Ellis closed out the match with a game-winning kill to give the Vikings a 25-23 win.
“We could’ve played better tonight. We made mistakes, but if we play like this and keep getting better, we’ll be a force,” said Knudsen.
Valencia carried it’s momentum into Game 3, making tremendous foot-digs and continuing to pressure Hart. Knudsen, Ellis and senior Tyler Clyde proceeded to accumulate their kills from junior Daniel Ra’s 28 assists on the day.
The Indians would not go quietly into Game 3, producing four straight points to seize a 12-9 lead. Senior Sawyer Tengberg and Jake Meyers answered the Vikings offensive volley.
Both teams were unwilling to concede game three until Valencia’s energy thrusted them to score six of the last 10 points and a 25-21 victory.
Valencia will be at Saugus for its next Foothill League game on April 18th, at 5:30 p.m. They will look to continue their win streak, possibly having the opportunity to play West Ranch in the final game of the season for the league title.
“We went five with West Ranch last time we played them, said Kornegay. “We are licking our chops to right the ship and knock them off. If we can find a way to win we’ll be pleased going into the playoffs.”
Hart will look to rebound on the road against Canyon on April 16th, at 5:15 p.m.