Hart girls volleyball protects home court against Saugus

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The Hart girls volleyball team began Tuesday’s Foothill League home game against Saugus with something to prove.

Sitting in second place in the league standings behind West Ranch, Hart suffered its first league loss of the season to Wildcats last Thursday and were ready to defend their home court and move on with the rest of Foothill League play.

“I think we just wanted to come out and show that this was our house because we wanted a fresh slate for the second round of league,” said Hart’s Audrey Welch. “We want to forget what happened and focus on moving forward.”

It took Hart a little bit to find its rhythm to begin the match, virtually trading point for point with Saugus until a Ruby Duncan kill tied the game and catapulted the Indians to a 5-0 run, which the Centurions could not overcome. They fell in the first game and the match in three games: 25-18, 25-14, 25-16.

Hart (8-5 overall, 5-1 in Foothill League) carried the momentum from the first game win into the second game as Megan Soto served up two aces in the midst of an Indians 8-0 run.

Soto and Duncan finished first and second on the team with 11 and 10 kills, respectively.

Saugus’ Sharon Tomei, Jackie Ibarra and Melanie Goeres tried to will their team back into the lead with kills to keep the Cents in the game.

But Hart’s frontline consisting of Kylie Tengberg, Duncan and Welch made it difficult throughout the match for any Saugus player to get a clean shot over their outstretched arms.

“Every team is different so it’s always a quick set of feedback to have them adjust, but they have always been that way it’s just a matter of having the confidence to push themselves a little further,” said Hart head coach Mary Irilian about the trio of Indians. “I think that’s really starting to roll around a little bit.” 

Winning by double digits, Duncan sealed the second game with an ace straight down the middle of the court.

Hart’s Grace Eck got things going with three consecutive aces out of the gates in the third game, but Ibarra and Brianna Plunk answered with spirited play to tie the game at 3-3.

Out of a timeout, Hart went on another 5-0 spurt, but had three unforced errors over the next eight points to keep Saugus (12-9, 2-4) at arm’s length.

But the Indians’ defense was just too much for the Cents to overcome, as the Indians took the third game and the match scoring five out of the final seven points to end it.

“We did well as far as controlling and composing our side,” Irilian said. “That’s what we focused on is not let things get to us and just try to keep pace with what we know we can do. We worked heavily with running our middles by getting them more involved and that helped free up our pins. We were trying to work on our offense and tonight was a good night to practice that.”

Eck recorded 28 assists and three aces for Hart, Welch had six blocks and Lina Elsee had 30 digs.

Ibarra had eight kills and 13 digs, Goeres had 12 digs and freshman setter Miliani Lee had 24 assists for Saugus.

Both teams are back in action at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday as Hart hosts Golden Valley and Saugus hosts West Ranch.

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