Before the start of this season, the Valencia girls volleyball team made a list of words that they wanted to embody this season. At the top of the list was “relentless.”
The Vikings stayed true to that word on Tuesday in their first match of the season by battling back from a loss in the first game to win in four.
“We fought back better than we did all summer because we got into kind of a drought in the first game and usually we kind of just stayed there, at least over summer, but today (coach) Ray (Sanchez) was yelling a lot,” said Aly Grodell. “… I think that helped.”
The Regal Gryphons were aggressive early in the first set, although Valencia was able to take a 7-6 lead on a kill from Kaelyn White. Some quality serving from Notre Dame Academy along with a handful of mistakes by the Vikings combined to get NDA a 25-20 win in the first game.
Notre Dame Academy jumped out to a lead once again in the second game, but Valencia was able to tie it 5-5 when a Regal Gryphon hit went long, then extend it to a 7-5 lead on an ace.
The Regal Gryphons went on a five-point scoring run to get ahead 10-7, but the Vikings were able to go point-for-point to stay within striking distance.
Grodell executed a block that helped set up the game point for Valencia, which they earned when an NDA hit fell short for a 25-23 win.
“She’s a dominant player and we just have to convince her that she’s a dominant player,” Sancehz said. “She needs to think of herself that way and play that way and I think she’s starting to get there. When she’s doing the things that she’s able to do, there’s not a lot of people that can stop her.”
Valencia got out to a 4-0 advantage in the third game with an ace from Emma Bramson and a hit from Grodell.
NDA fought back to keep it close and were able to close the gap on some mistakes by the Vikes to get a 14-12 lead.
Two consecutive blocks from Grodell and Jaela Bernard tied it up at 16-all and the Vikes never looked back. With a shot from Bramson in the back row, Valencia won the game 25-21.
“(It was) a little blooper that dropped,” Bramson said. “Honestly, I just threw my hands up hoping it dropped and I was so excited.”
Game 4 was another point-for-point affair until an ace from White got Valencia back in front and sparked a four-point run that the Regal Gryphons couldn’t recover from. The Vikings took the game 25-22.
Valencia next plays at Thousand Oaks on Thursday at 6:30.