By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
Hart girls volleyball (2-1) hammered the shorthanded Granada Hills Charter Highlanders (3-3) in their non-league matchup on Tuesday.
The Indians won on the road with scores of 25-18, 25-20 and 25-9.
Hart juniors Madison Maxwell and Maiah Jiz led the team with 12 kills apiece.
The Highlanders got on top first, going up 5-1, but the Indians weren’t phased and kept playing their game.
Big swings from Maxwell and Jiz helped Hart jump back in and dominate in the first set. Jiz was mostly a force at outside while Maxwell was able to register kills all over the court.
“[Jiz] killed it today,” said Maxwell. “She’s been doing so well just keeping the ball in, putting it in great spots and being smart where she’s attacking.”
Indians senior Rebecca Serviss knocked down an ace in her serving run to help Hart go on a 7-2 run and the lead kept growing.
The Hart blocking also shined as Granada’s strong middle and outside attack was mostly contained.
Granada shook off the second set and came out fighting. The Highlander offense kept fighting and had great looks early in the set. It looked like the two teams would fight in a close second set but the Granada passing continued to struggle against the big hits from Maxwell and Jiz, which allowed the Indians to pull away late. A service error would be the final point in the second and Hart would win, 25-20.
Indians’ setter Morgan Dumlao utilized all her weapons during the game, registering three or more assists to five different Hart hitters. Dumlao finished the night with 31 assists.
“In practice, we don’t emphasize Maddy much offensively,” said Hart head coach Mary Irilian. “We want our setters to be comfortable setting other hitters. That way it spreads the offense and keeps the blockers on the other side guessing.”
Irilian knows no team is ever going to go down without a fight and had her team go out into the third like they were down two sets. It was all Hart from the get go as the blocking, hitting and serving all continued to click.
Libero Alexis Holloway and Maxwell combined to serve for nearly half the set, keeping the Highlanders off balance. Granada couldn’t muster anything up for the Indians and Hart would go on to seal the deal, up 16 points.
The Indians are looking sharp heading into Foothill League play. Irilian will hope to see the team’s mental game match their physicality and defensive game. The head coach has had a challenging but rewarding preseason in which she has utilized plenty of different lineups.
Hart looks on track to return to the playoffs but will still have to go through Foothill League battle. The team finished tied for second last season.
The Indians will have their Foothill League opener on the road at Golden Valley Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
“If we’re really competitive and battle with every team in our league, I think we have a good chance of being league champs,” said Maxwell. “We’ve been playing well and consistent.”