By Ryan Menzie
Signal Sports Writer
It is unlikely to hear of a team from your hometown competing in the state playoffs, let alone winning the state title. The Santa Clarita Valley this fall was fortunate to have two teams compete at the state level and one win the championship.
The girls’ volleyball teams of the SCV accumulated major success with season accolades for teams and players respective of the outstanding accomplishments and hard work they put in throughout the season.
The Santa Clarita Christian School Cardinals made it the furthest of any team in the SCV and made history as a team to go the entire season undefeated (37-0, 14-0). The Cardinals only dropped four sets all season long (two in the CIF finals).
“What an unbelievable season. It’s a season you always dream about,” said Cardinals head coach Darcy Brown. “I always tell my girls if we don’t go all the way we end up with a loss, so instead we went all the way without a loss throughout the season at all. We set a high standard and it will be a difficult off-season of work for us. We can’t feel like we’ve arrived.”
The Cardinals competed in a smaller Division 8 league, but the impressive record and domination among the teams they competed against at all levels makes this accomplishment that much greater.
Brown was named as the Coach of the Year for the All-CIF Southern Section 2021 Girls Volleyball Team with junior setter Kaysa Brown bringing home Player of the Year honors. Senior outside hitter Nevaeh Phillips and junior outside hitter Hannah Shaffer were also selected for the All-CIF team.
Brown would also be named Heritage League Co-MVP with Shaffer. Phillips was also named first team All-League with teammate junior libero Chaney Brooks. Junior middle blocker Bethany Wilson was named to the second team All-League.
“It’s everyone’s goal to do what we did,” said Phillips. “To win the CIF and state title was pretty perfect. With this being my last season on the team it was a great memory for me. We had a lot of fun all season long. I just want to thank my teammates for making this season so memorable and fun. I’m going to miss them very much.”
The Saugus Centurions (22-7-2, 9-3) finished tied for second in the Foothill League standings but made it further than any other team from the league, competing in the CIF and state playoffs.
The Centurions made it all the way to the Division 4 CIF semifinals before losing to Alemany in four sets. With the Centurions making it all the way to the semifinals, they were able to qualify for the Division 3 state playoffs. The Centurions lost in the second round to El Camino Real in five sets.
“We definitely exceeded our expectations,” said Centurions’ head coach Zach Ambrose. “The individual accolades are nice to celebrate now that the season is over, but I think the girls were more focused on the team throughout the season. We struggled early in the season with a lot of girls missing games due to illness. Once we got through it, we started getting stronger and started peaking at the right time. We started to really enjoy the game.”
Junior setter Milani Lee was selected to the All-CIF team as the only girl from the Foothill League to be selected and rounded out all the selections from the SCV. Lee was also named to the first-team Foothill League All-League team.
Junior outside hitter Naomi Greer was selected to the first team All-League team with freshman outside hitter Morgan Guardado and sophomore opposite hitter Taylor Treahy being named to the second team. Freshman libero Gabriella Cascione was named as an honorable mention.
The Foothill League champion West Ranch Wildcats (19-6, 12-0) finished on top of the Foothill League with the sole possession of the league title and their second league title in as many years.
The Wildcats would compete in the Division 3 CIF playoffs and lose to El Toro in the second round in three sets.
“It is unfortunate we came up short in the CIF finals and didn’t end where we would have liked, but this was the perfect season for me,” said Wildcats head coach Jamey Ker. “Working with all the adversity we had to work with and reaching one of our goals was an amazing feeling. Seeing the girls earn Player of the Year and first- and second-team honors is also unbelievable to see. This is why I love being a coach and working with kids to help them achieve their goals.”
Senior libero Kaitlyn Jizmejian was named the Player of the Year for the Foothill League with junior middle blocker Victoria Davis and senior outside hitter Kiley Gustin being named to the first team. Senior libero Tharushi Silva and senior outside hitter Roxanne Tunnicliffe were named to the second team and sophomore outside hitter Kennedy Osunsanmi named as an honorable mention.
“It was a really fun and competitive season,” said Jizmejian. “Everybody came out and worked their butt off. It was really cool to go undefeated for my last season with a senior-dominated team and win the league title. I absolutely loved playing with every single person during this season and being able to form a closer bond in Hawaii. I will remember everybody and the memories I made with them will last a lifetime.”
After winning a share of the Foothill League title during the 2020 season, the Hart Indians finished tied for second place (15-7, 9-3). The Indians would compete in the Division 2 CIF playoffs and lose in the first round to Notre Dame in three sets.
Senior outside hitter Kylie Tengberg and sophomore opposite hitter Madison Maxwell were named to the All-League first team. Senior middle blocker Audrey Welch and sophomore setter Morgan Dumlao were named to the second team and sophomore libero Alexis Holloway would be named as an honorable mention.
The Canyon Cowboys (10-13, 5-7) finished tied for fourth place in the Foothill League and were able to compete in the CIF Division 4 playoffs. The Cowboys would also lose in the first round to Westridge in three sets to end their season.
Outside hitter Nia Marshall led the Cowboys, earning second team All-League honors with middle blocker Emily Guluzza being named as an honorable mention.
The Valencia Vikings also finished tied for fourth place in the Foothill League (10-16, 5-7) but were unable to compete in the CIF playoffs.
Junior outside hitter Hailey McKell earned first team All-League honors while junior middle blocker Brooklyn Cohen was named as an honorable mention.
The Castaic Coyotes entered their first season in the Foothill League and finished sixth. Outside hitter Peyton Schneider was named as an honorable mention. The Golden Valley Grizzlies rounded out the Foothill League, finishing seventh, and would have senior Rosita Genero named as an honorable mention.
The Trinity Classical Academy Knights (17-8, 11-3) competed in the Heritage League alongside the state champion Cardinals and would finish second place overall in the league. The Knights earned a spot to compete in the Division 7 CIF playoffs and lost to Costa Mesa in the second round in three sets.