By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
Hart boys’ volleyball (1-1) registered their first win of the season in dramatic fashion, defeating the Simi Valley Pioneers (0-2) 3-2 with scores of 17-25, 25-18, 26-24, 21-25 and 15-9.
The Indians’ serving and hitting of junior Owen Douphner gave Hart the edge. Simi’s passing was inconsistent off the serve while Douphner’s hits were too much to handle.
The volleyball Swiss army knife of Douphner started the first match at setter. He then went part time allowing him to hit frequently at outside and opposite.
This game was still a battle throughout, with Hart having a big run to finish off this marathon game.
“We put up on the board yesterday, we need to respond, not react, and not let the moment get too big for us,” said Hart head coach Loy Mueller. “Today we showed that’s what we’ve been working on.”
The Pioneers’ hitting and serving were sharp and helped Simi control the first set on their way to winning comfortably by eight.
Hart then made the adjustment to get Douphner swinging.
Setter Tanner Andrew came in for some great serving and to set Douphner, helping the junior on his way to 17 kills. The Indians then ran away with the second set as Simi Valley struggled to pass on Hart’s tricky serving, floaters and spots.
The third set had both teams exchanging blows as neither team could pull far away from the other. It looked like it would go beyond 25 points early but the Indians made it a quick few extra points. A Douphner kill would be the first point but Simi would end the set on a harsh double called by the ref.
Sophomore Isaac Kim had a solid 12 kills for Hart. Kim hit well at outside but did major damage with his back-row attacks.
“I’m feeling pretty good about this team,” said Douphner. “It’s a good improvement from last year. A lot of new guys this year.”
The Indians got in trouble early in the fifth set, going down a few crucial points early. However, Hart began to hit its stride and scored nine unanswered points to secure a more than comfortable lead over the Pioneers and eventually winning the set and match.
The game nearly ended on Hart shanking some passes and managing to barely get the ball over the net. Simi junior Brandon Baez was there to slam it back to Hart but was called for a net violation. After a long discussion and rebuttal in which the net referee came down from the ladder, it was for some reason ruled a replay.
Simi Valley was given a second life but Douphner ended it quickly, registering his final big kill.
“That was mentally draining for sure,” said Douphner. “Especially coming off of that fourth set.”
Hart will now have a few more non-league and tournament games before starting league play Thursday when the Indians host Golden Valley at 5:30 p.m.