By Bryanna Winner
For The Signal
West Ranch volleyball traveled to Saugus on Thursday and won in four games: 24-26, 25-16, 25-17, 25-13.
“We got off to a slow start so the focus was to increase our intensity in the way we were playing, both from a vocal standpoint, but more importantly from a physical standpoint,” said West Ranch head coach Jamey Ker.
Both teams went back-and-forth as the Centurions kept up with Foothill League leaders as they tied multiple times in the four games. Every time the Wildcats scored a point, the Centurions would come right back with their own.
Saugus was down 23-24 before receiving three straight points to win the first game 26-24 and was losing 12-17 coming out of a timeout before shifting their momentum their way.
“(Coming out of the timeout), I told them that we just have to make sure we are hitting the spots that we planned for and to make sure we were serving tough all the time and they were able to do that,” said Saugus head coach Zachary Ambrose.
After the first game, West Ranch would take control and wouldn’t relinquish it as they would win the next three games and clinch the match. Ker would give the team the talk they needed to before going into the second game.
“We have to put our foot on the gas pedal, otherwise we are going to let this game slip us by. We let that first set slip by us because we didn’t come out with the intensity we needed to,” said Ker. “Fortunately, the girls have had practice at battling, so even though the adversity was coming from our own side of the net, we battled very hard through that adversity.”
Ambrose and senior Brianna Plunk commended the athletes that stepped up in the absence of some of their players and teammates.
“We had a lot of people out today. We had two injuries and one girl out sick, so we had a really different group of girls out there,” Ambrose said. “I loved how they came out on fire and stepped up in the first set and then even though they pulled away at the end of the last two sets, we kept fighting and the communication was great. They played their hearts out so I was proud.”
“We had people missing because they were sick. A lot of people stepped up, people that don’t normally play just came in and they did their best. They really contributed,” said Plunk.
Senior Aaryn Brink attributes the win to their teamwork, whether they were down in a game or just keeping the Centurions from going on runs.
“After a big rally, we really pulled together,” Brink said. “We had really key defensive points which allowed us to get a good set, get a good kill. Our offense was really spread a lot, and a lot of different kills from a lot of different people.”
For West Ranch, senior Allison Jacobs led both teams with 29 kills, senior Gwen Garate followed with eight kills and sophomore Kiley Gustin had five kills. Junior Erin Eskoff led with 33 assists and senior Olivia Hoffman had 16 digs.
For Saugus, junior Sharon Tomei led the team with 10 kills, senior Nachi Chukwumerije was right behind with eight kills and freshman Milani Lee had 29 assists.
The Centurions will be competing in the Gabrielino Invitational on Saturday before returning to league play on Oct. 10 at Canyon, while the Wildcats will travel to Golden Valley to take on the Grizzlies on Oct. 10 at 5:30 p.m.