By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
West Ranch boys’ volleyball (27-7, 12-0) registered its sixth consecutive perfect league season after beating Canyon (21-7, 8-4).
The Wildcats won their Friday night league matchup with scores of 23-25, 25-22, 25-20 and 25-23.
Freshman Noah Douphner led the team on senior night with a game-high 22 kills, 10 digs and six aces.
Canyon would come out firing on all cylinders. Even though the Cowboys were locked into the second seed, they’d happily play the spoiler role to end West Ranch’s perfect streak.
The first set was tightly contested as no team could score more than two points in a row before the other answered.
Canyon senior Tobias Andrews helped notch the first 3-0 run of the first set with a kill to go up 22-20.
Andrews has been the catalyst for the Cowboys all year and led his team in his final regular-season outing with 17 kills.
Outside hitter Brandon Boldroff would end the first set with a kill to give Canyon its only set taken against West Ranch in five seasons.
“They gave us everything that they had,” said West Ranch head coach Brandon Johnson. “We took every blow. We absorbed them and got knocked down but we just kept getting up and just kept punching back. Luckily, we had one or two more better punches than they did at the end.”
Both teams made it impossible to go on a run in the first set, but the Cowboys sparked early in the second and went up 4-0. Canyon would lead by as much as five points in the second set but the Cats just kept chipping away.
“Definitely a slow start,” said Reid. “We picked it up. Got a lot more energy. Mistakes were made but we learn from them and move on.”
Big serves from Douphner and outside hitter Matt Reid helped get West Ranch back in the game.
Reid also finished with a double-double with 16 kills and 10 digs.
The Cats rallied and a kill from middle blocker Derrick Borden ended the set and tied the game at 1-1.
Each team missed their serves to start the third set, setting up what would be a sloppy early outing for both teams.
Douphner took over later in the set and Canyon, like most other teams, had no answer.
The freshman went on multiple scoring runs by himself, hammering down kills and aces, including a kill to end the third set with a decent lead.
The Cowboys never rolled over and played another tight set with the Cats. Andrews heated up in the final set and even knocked down two consecutive kills to go up 20-19.
The fourth set had plenty of boiling points with the officials making a sizable number of questionable calls for both sides.
West Ranch would be on the receiving end of three yellow cards and a red card, which awarded Canyon a point.
However, with a fifth set looming and tensions sky high, the Wildcats hung in and continued to play their game.
West Ranch went on a 5-1 run again thanks to kills from Douphner and Reid, who got the game-ending kill, hitting from the pipe.
The Wildcats secured the No. 1 seed yet again and will head into the postseason at home.
West Ranch is scheduled to host Alemany on Thursday at 6 p.m. in the first round of Division 2 CIF Southern Section playoffs.
“I’m excited for the playoffs,” said Douphner. “I feel like we have a lot of potential.”
Canyon still capped off one of its best seasons in a long time. The attack of Andrews, Boldroff and Noah Votaw will be enough to give any team trouble.
The senior-heavy Cowboys team is scheduled to head to Redlands for a matchup with the Arrowhead Christian Eagles, also on Thursday at 6 p.m.