The Hart boys volleyball team hosted Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks in the first of two tough nonleague contests this week at Hart High School on Tuesday.
Keeping it close with the Knights throughout the match, the Indians fell by no more than five points in three games: 25-21, 25-21 and 25-20.
The Indians (2-3 overall) are very young this season and feature just four seniors – Gavin Leising, Sawyer Tengberg, Andrei Marasigan and Braeden Keely – on an 11-man roster and are trying to learn through the growing pains.
“I think it was a good, close game for us,” said Hart head coach Loy Mueller. “We are really young so we are trying to adjust on the fly and learn as much as we can with these challenging teams that we are playing. I think it was a good back-and-forth game, we had a few lapses in confidence and a few silly mistakes that ultimately cost each set and the match.”
Senior Gavin Leising along with second-year varsity player, sophomore Ian Duncan, led the Indians with nine kills each. Leising added five digs and an ace, while Duncan chipped in with six digs.
Senior setter Sawyer Tengberg dished out 23 assists, six digs and recorded a kill and a block for Hart.
The Indians took their first lead of the match, 4-3, after surrendering three of the first four points to begin the first game, with three consecutive points that ended with an Owen Wellins kill.
Sophomore Andrew Fry’s ace extended Hart’s biggest lead of the game to 12-9 and a couple of points later, after a Notre Dame hitting error, Hart led, 15-11.
Tengberg showed off his versatility in the first game getting back-to-back blocks on Notre Dame’s Mason Moore.
“He’s been an amazing leader so far,” Mueller said. “He was a captain last year, so I think he grew a lot last year and he’s using that experience to teach his young teammates through his play and through conversations with them. I see him trying to boost everyone up, he’s been a blessing for us.”
With Hart holding a 19-17 lead, there was a brief stop in play due the school’s fire alarm going off and the game was paused for about five minutes.
Out of the timeout, Notre Dame (9-3) went on the offensive, scoring three straight points and eight of the final 10 points to win, 25-21.
“I don’t know, it definitely stopped our flow, but I wouldn’t say that it cost us much,” Mueller said. “We just didn’t come back fired up, we let them hit their reset button. Ultimately, I think that’s what they needed and they were able to reset and take those two points back and close out the set on us.”
The second game was tighter than the first with neither team wanting to give up the game’s momentum. Three straight points gave Notre Dame an 8-6 lead, but after splitting the following two points, Hart scored the next four points and took an 11-9 advantage.
The Knights fought their way back to a 21-19 lead, but a Leising block and kill tied it at 21-21.
A service error on the following point gave Notre Dame the lead once again and the Knights took care of business, winning by a similar four-point margin to take a two-game lead.
“We have to be faster at identifying what the other team is going to be doing and understanding that when your number is called on our side, you have to be ready for the moment and not be afraid,” Mueller said. “Again, it’s a confidence thing with a young team that we just have to grow up and learn fast.
“Gavin did a great job of getting to the best player on the other team, getting into their head and kind of shutting them down. We just lacked that last step to put that game away.”
Holding a 1-0 lead to begin the third game, the Indians couldn’t put the right number of sequences together and trailed the visitors for the entirety of the third game after a brief 4-3 lead.
The Knights led 15-10 after a Dean Woolery ace and ended up winning by five points, the biggest margin of victory of the day.
Hart heads out on the road and faces Granada Hills Charter at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
“I think what we need to learn this week is to just play volleyball,” Mueller said. “Don’t let anything else affect the fact that you are playing volleyball and there’s nothing better to do in the world. That’s it.”
Canyon 3, Heritage Christian 0
The Cowboys (6-3 overall) beat the Warriors (0-5) in three games: 25-14, 25-14, 25-12.
Corwin Daugherty and Braden Meyer had three aces each.
Darius Berko, Connor Cooper and Blake Mahaffey finished the win with three kills apiece.
Santa Barbara 3, Valencia 0
The Vikings (8-5) fell in three games: 25-15, 25-21, 25-19 to the Dons (1-3) at Santa Barbara High School on Tuesday.
Ethan Lin and Zack Punto each finished with five kills for Valencia. Daniel Ra dished out 11 assists.
Granada Hills Charter 3, Golden Valley 1
The Grizzlies (4-4) fell in four games: 25-23, 25-18, 23-25, 25-18.
Alemany 3, Saugus 0
Saugus (2-2) lost in three games: 25-20, 25-21, 25-20.