A new season, a new coach and new players mean a new mindset for the Saugus boys volleyball team as it entered the first game of the season against Quartz Hill at Saugus on Tuesday.
First-year head coach Serena LeDuff had the Centurions eager to hit the court and it showed as Saugus avenged last year’s 3-0 sweep and turned the tables on them, winning in straight games: 25-23, 25-14, 25-23.
“I love the energy she gives off to us,” said Saugus captain Daniel Compton. “She always makes practices competitive, she’s always telling us little things that we can work on even if we think we are doing fine. She’s just a really positive coach; I love the energy that she brings to us.”
Compton, a junior, was a key cog on the Centurions’ team last season and the third-year varsity starter propelled his team to the win. Compton finished with team-highs in three categories: kills (12), aces (six) and digs (eight).
“When we were down, and even when we weren’t down, he kept the team going,” LeDuff said. “When he makes a mistake he shakes it off and it’s starting to rub off on the team. He’s definitely one of our captains and it shows, for sure, by his play.”
Saugus (1-0 overall) trailed Quartz Hill 12-9 halfway through the first game, but Compton and the Centurions played smart and got back in it, tying the game at 16-16 after a Compton kill and a service error by the visitors.
The Rebels responded with kills by Nolan Taflinger and Sartaj Brar and forced Saugus to call a timeout, down 23-19.
Compton jump-started the team to five consecutive points to take a 24-23 lead and Tucker Davis sealed the game with a kill down the middle.
“I just kept telling everyone to go out there and have fun, play our hardest. Don’t worry about the score, play our game and keep our energy up,” Compton said. “Be loud.”
The Centurions carried the momentum from the roaring comeback win in the first game and rolled to a 25-14 win in the second game.
Jacob Liebe set the framework of the win with an ace as Saugus jumped out to a 5-1 run. Camron Nale, who took two years off after playing in his freshman year, hit one of his two aces in the win and hopes to add that to his daily repertoire.
“I’m working on it,” Nale said about his aces.
Liebe led the team with 24 assists and had two aces and three digs. Nale finished the match with six kills, two aces and two digs.
The second game was never really in doubt, but Quartz Hill (0-1) did get within eight points of Saugus, down 22-14. A controversial block call went in Saugus’ favor and the Cents closed out the game with a Compton kill.
“I think I did OK,” Nale said of his first game back in action. “I just have to shake the rust off for being out for two years, but we did really well today. We got a lot of good sets and Tyler (Edwards) and Tucker (Davis) had some really good swings.”
Seeking the sweep, Saugus began the third game a little sloppy with numerous errors and fell behind early, down 6-3. Edwards and Davis, alongside Nale, laid down hearty kills as a Quartz Hill rout looked to be in line.
“Cam just came back, Tyler is new,” LeDuff said. “I saw their height and knew that we would make it work. They are really working hard to catch up to the skills and everyone else.”
Edwards and Davis each recorded six kills and a block.
Saugus regained a 15-12 lead and Quartz Hill tried to inspire a comeback, but was only able to tie the game at 18-18. The Rebels got within one point, down 23-22, but Saugus scored a point and Compton sealed the opening-season win with a kill.
“I think beating them today after losing to them last year proves that we can do anything this season,” Compton said. “We have multiple hitters this year, we have a lot of skill and I’m really excited.”
Saugus plays Simi Valley at 6:30 p.m. at Simi Valley High School on Thursday.
Crescenta Valley 3, Hart 0
The Indians (0-1 overall) fell in three games: 25-14, 25-23, 24-18 as the Falcons (1-0) began the season with a win on Monday.
Gavin Leising had 13 kills and Sawyer Tengberg had 16 assists.