The Valencia boys volleyball team improved to .500 on the season on Tuesday, but more importantly, won its CIF-Southern Section Division 2 opening round playoff game against Oxnard at Oxnard High School in straight games: 25-22, 25-16, 25-15.
The Vikings (20-20) were led by seniors Dorian Ellis and Tyler Clyde, who combined for 17 kills, five blocks and two aces.
Valencia defeated Oxnard 3-1 in the season opener back in mid-February, but were without Ellis and Clyde in that matchup.
“We struggled with them the first time we met, but the difference is we didn’t have Dorian and Tyler was sick, so those are two of the big weapons that we had available that we didn’t have the first time we played them,” said Valencia head coach Kevin Kornegay. “We added those two guys in the lineup and it really energized the team. They played with confidence.”
The Yellowjackets (19-17-1) got off to a fast start and capitalized on the Vikings’ nerves in the first game. Valencia struggled to take care of the ball allowing Oxnard, which came out extremely motivated, to score some easy points.
Still, it wasn’t enough, as Valencia rebounded later in the opening game to capture the three-point win.
“We were playing a little sloppier, first-game jitters I think. Some of the balls would come over and we just weren’t ready,” Kornegay said. “They were playing really well and we weren’t, so they kept it close to the very end. We were able to pull away and take care of it. Our guys settled down in games two and three and it worked out really well.”
The second and third games swung more in the Vikings’ favor, as they built up a lead and held onto it.
Leading the charge was Ellis and Clyde, along with junior Jacob Knudsen, who finished with 10 kills and an ace. Senior libero Benjamin Kash and junior Danny Kwak paced the defense with five digs apiece. Senior Dominic Gonzalez and junior Daniel Ra added two kills each.
“They hung around in game one, but in games two and three we pulled away and we were dominant,” Kornegay said. “We started playing really well and got a nice comfortable lead and kept the separation.”
After the final point was scored, Kornegay said he felt a sense of relief. His second thought was he hoped Thursday’s second-round match would be at the Vikings’ gym.
He’ll get his wish.
Valencia will face Esperanza High School in the next round on Thursday at home. The Aztecs are 28-5 and had a perfect 8-0 record in the Crestview League.
“We’re going to watch film on them, study the film, figure out what kind of matchups we want and the things we want to work on in practice to take away their strengths,” Kornegay said. “We’ll do that tomorrow and we’ll have to draw on our experience from the tough schedule we played. The victories and the losses, can they put it together, push forward and get a victory.”
Saddleback Valley Christian 3, Hart 0
Coming off an emotional five-game wild-card victory over St. Francis on Monday night, Hart was unable to carry the momentum into Tuesday’s CIF-SS Division 2 first-round playoff match against No. 1 seed Saddleback Valley Christian, losing in three games on the road: 21-25, 14-25, 10-25.
Senior Gavin Leising led the Indians with six kills and three blocks and senior Mitchell Ensing added five kills. Senior Jake Meyers had four kills, two digs and a block, and senior setter Sawyer Tengberg added eight assists and three digs.
Diego Marquez contributed to this report.