While West Ranch girls volleyball had just regained one of its most important players, Saugus was learning how to work without one of theirs on Monday night.
The Wildcats, who returned Allison Jacobs, swept the Centurions who were without Carleigh Johnson, at West Ranch for their second win of the Foothill League season.
“Obviously she’s the MVP of our team,” said setter/opposite Erin Eskoff of Jacobs. “She brings so much fire to the court and she has such a huge passion for volleyball and that definitely carries the team and helps us get that win, so I think definitely having Allison back is a big reason why we won.”
Jacobs just returned from Egypt where she won gold with Team USA at the U18 FIVB World Championships and wasted no time making an impact for West Ranch. She scored three straight points for the Cats as they got out to a 5-3 lead over the Cents to start the first game.
The two teams went point-for-point until Gwen Garate aced a serve to give West Ranch a 17-14 lead and a little momentum.
The Wildcats (2-0) scored in spurts for the remainder of the game. Funmi Idowu setting up the game point with a kill, then the Cats took the game 25-18 on a Saugus error.
Saugus (0-2) scored the first point in the second game, but West Ranch was able to tie it up early at 3-3 on a kill from Jacobs. The Centurions jumped ahead again briefly until the Cats went on a six-point run to bring the score to 10-7.
The Cents were able to get some defense going with blocks from Lauryn Thompson and Jackie Ibarra. However, the offense just couldn’t catch up with Johnson’s absence. The defensive specialist left with an injury in the fourth game of the season-opener against Hart.
“She was our leading defender and passer,” said Saugus coach Zach Ambrose. “We couldn’t run the offense, couldn’t run the middle like we do.”
The Cats won Game 2 25-17 on another Saugus error.
Surging to a 5-1 lead in the third game, West Ranch was able to confidently finish out the sweep. The Cats scored four straight points, one of which came on a Garate kill and another on a block by Alicia Zimmerman and Eskoff.
Kiley Gustin, a sophomore, made some plays in Game 3. First she had a block to make it 12-5 in the Wildcats’ favor, then later had a kill to make it 15-10.
“She’s a big hitter,” Eskoff said of Gustin. “She’s a sophomore on the court. She made a huge contribution.”
West Ranch scored seven straight points to finish out the game and win it 25-16.
Jacobs finished the match with a team-high 18 kills, followed by Gustin who had eight. Olivia Hoffmann logged 21 digs and Eskoff and Garate each had 11 assists.
For Saugus, Milani Lee had 21 assists, while Lauryn Thompson hit .400 and Brianna Plunk hit .444. Bella Embleton executed eight digs.
West Ranch next hosts Golden Valley on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. and Saugus will host Canyon on the same day at the same time.