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Hart girls volleyball stymies Valencia in five games

By Bryanna Winner

For The Signal

Hart volleyball traveled to Valencia on Thursday and won in five games: 26-24, 23-25, 22-25, 25-20, and 15-12.

The first game saw the Indians trailing early before coach Mary Irilian called timeout down 5-0. 

“We had talked about coming out of the game with intensity and I said ‘you know we talked about getting out there and you know you guys aren’t doing that so we need to change the mindset and be more aggressive to change the energy,” Irilian said during the timeout.

The Indians got points on the board but at one point were behind 14-5 before going on a 10-1 run to tie it at 15. From there the first game went back and forth until Hart was able to pull away and take the first game. 

During the second game, the Vikings called timeout twice when they were trailing 17-18 and when they were tied at 22 to shift momentum. Coach Kristin Dolan encouraged the team to play their game and not the other way around.

“It’s about taking care of the ball on our side and going out and playing aggressive, trying to make (Hart) play Viking volleyball as opposed to us playing Indian volleyball,” Dolan said.

The rest of the games saw both teams alternating points until Hart won the fifth and final game. Both sides had errors and multiple timeouts.

Both teams saw each other previously this season and knew what the other was capable of because on Sept. 19, both teams faced off in the Hart gym where the Indians protected their home court and beat the Vikings 3-1. 

The Indians adjusted this time around in terms of mentality, according to senior Megan Soto.

“We just went in with the mentality that we have to shut them down first because when we get the momentum, that’s when are able to go on runs and score points,” Soto said. “Our strategy this game was more on the mental side. We still wanted to go and be aggressive but it was more of trying to shut them down early.”

On the other side, the Vikings took notes on the Indians during their previous meeting so they knew what to expect and how to adjust.

“We took charts on them the first time we played them so we knew exactly what they were running,” said senior Macy Kirkwood. “We knew (Ruby Duncan) was their big hitter so we were trying to go up on her as much as we could. We practiced more in depth with tips and the different styles of hitting they had so we were able to adjust.”

For Hart, Duncan led both teams with 23 kills and five blocks and Soto was right behind with 14 kills. Senior Lina Elsee had 31 digs and senior Grace Eck had 43 assists.

For Valencia, senior Alyssa Grodell led the Vikings with 15 kills, junior Kendall Thompson followed behind her with 10 kills, and juniors Abby Sherman and Chloe Rich both finished with 21 digs.

As the regular season comes to a close, both teams have aspects of their game before their final two matches.

“We need to work on finishing,” Dolan said. “We put ourselves in a great position and then we didn’t finish.”

“We have a number of players that need to make adjustments still that they’re not making so we need to emphasize those players to step up  so it’s not just two or three players that are maximizing our success, it’s everyone,” Irilian said. 

Both teams will be back in action on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. as Valencia travels to West Ranch and Hart hosts Canyon.

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