By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
Three Foothill League teams will jump straight into playoffs as usual with a fourth forced into a play-in game to fight for their spot.
There has been some quality volleyball played around the Santa Clarita Valley this year and now each team will have their chance at a playoff run.
West Ranch hosts Alemany
Perfect in league yet again, the Wildcats will start their 2022 postseason campaign with a matchup against the Warriors (6-7-1, 3-3).
West Ranch should be considered the favorite but nothing is given, especially in playoffs. However, If the Cats play their game with dangerous attackers around the court and play solid defense, they believe they can beat anyone.
The front of Matt Reid, Carter Barton and Noah Douphner has proven too much for numerous teams so far this season. Head coach Brandon Johnson will hope to continue their dominant play and win his first home playoff game in three years.
“We’re not a finished product by any means,” said Johnson. “We can always improve with effort on defense. I think we get in the habit of being such a strong serving and hitting team that we don’t always put in the effort that we need to on the defensive end.”
West Ranch is scheduled to host Alemany Thursday at 6 p.m.
Canyon heads to Arrowhead Christian
The Cowboys capped off one of their best seasons in years and will now head to the playoffs with a matchup against the Arrowhead Christian Eagles.
Canyon is one of the bigger schools in the Division 4 playoffs and certainly has the talent to showcase a strong volleyball program.
The job at hand, though, stands with Arrowhead Christian in the way. Senior Tobias Andrews can wreak havoc on opposing defenses and is poised to lead Canyon in its first playoff action in seven years. The Cowboys have been noted by other teams as the best blocking team in the Foothill League. If Andrews, the blocking and some other hitters get going, Canyon is looking strong for a deep playoff run.
The Cowboys are scheduled to face Arrowhead Christian Thursday at 6 p.m.
Valencia travels to San Marcos
Valencia drew a tough first-round matchup in San Marcos. The Royals swept the Vikings earlier in the year in a game where Valencia put up 33 points in three sets.
However, both teams are different now and the Vikings still have the weapons to win.
The team’s only senior, Jackson Smith, will enter his first and final playoff run with hopes to upset the Royals.
Smith’s big swing as well as hitting from twins Dane and Jet Ricks will be key in their matchup.
It’s been an interesting year for the Vikings, who finished outside of the top two in league for the first time in nine seasons. The team has only one senior but still plays sound volleyball thanks to head coach Josh Kornegay.
Kornegay gears up for his second playoff run starting at San Marcos on Thursday at 6 p.m.
Hart wins play-in, heads to Royal
The Indians were fortunate to draw a team they’ve already matched up with in their Division 3 play-in game. Hart swept the Lancers in two sets in La Salle’s first game of the season this year.
The Lancers managed to surprise Hart in the first set before the Indians turned it on and won three straight to secure their playoff spot. Utility man Owen Douphner led the team with 18 kills while Hank Kauffman knocked down 12 kills, hitting .473.
The Indians will need their usual from Owen as well as more big swings from teammates Kauffman and Isaac Kim. The Highlanders have a solid all-around team that Hart looks to knock off.
The Indians head to Royal (Simi Valley) Thursday at 6 p.m.