Hart girls volleyball (8-3,5-2) shocked the visiting Centurions (25-2, 7-1) on Wednesday for Saugus’ first best-of-five loss of the year.
The Indians won with scores of 22-25, 25-23, 26-24 and 25-20.
Hart was led by junior opposite hitter Madison Maxwell, who hammered down 24 kills and 14 digs.
Saugus was without setter and Long Beach commit Milani Lee, who was out sick. Lee’s absence moved outside hitter Morgan Guardado to full-time setter, where she has plenty of experience. Senior Naomi Greer filled in at outside and hit a season-high 11 kills.
The Indians looked ready to go after being swept at Saugus last week. The team blocked and passed well off the Centurion attack led by opposite hitter Taylor Treahy, who finished with 14 kills on .066% hitting.
Saugus would hold off the sparking Hart offense at the end of the first set.
No one could pull away in the second set. If one of the two could pull two or three points away, the other would dial back in and tie.
Setter Morgan Dumlao would register an ace to make it 23-20. Then, thanks to some Saugus offense mishaps, the Indians only needed one more point.
“I feel really good after that game,” said Dumlao. “I feel like we all came together and put everything on the court. We really wanted to win that game.”
Dumlao finished with 29 assists.
The Centurions would rally and nearly force a win-by-two scenario but a hitting error would give Hart the set.
It was Saugus’ fifth dropped set of the season.
“The girls kept their composure when we were down,” said Indians head coach Mary Irilian. “No one looked defeated or out of it early on. A testament to their ability to rally back and win.”
The teams fought early again to start a vital third set. Each team had plenty of errors but were still swinging hard.
Saugus gained an edge and went up 20-15. Hart couldn’t quite chase down the lead and wound up down 24-19. It was the most clutch run the Indians have had this year. Consecutive kills by Maxwell gave Hart the momentum.
Strong serving from senior Alyssa Cordoba would push Hart over the top as the senior registered three of the Indians’ last four points on aces.
Libero Alexis Holloway was also huge for Hart in keeping points off the visitors’ score. The libero got under hits all night and ended with a solid 13 digs and four assists.
The Centurions hadn’t faced a 2-1 deficit all year and the team struggled to spark early in the do-or-die fourth set. Saugus would find its rhythm here and there but Hart maintained a lead throughout the set to close this one out. Senior Mia Clark would get the game-winning point on a huge block to seal Hart’s biggest win of the season.
“The girls were pumped,” said Irilian. “Yesterday we had a really good practice. They were excited to be in the home gym playing Saugus. Even after the last time we saw Saugus, their mindset was already prepping for Wednesday. So they were literally planning this for a whole week.”
The Indians have now won three of their last four and are improving as they head down the final stretch of the season. Hart has firmed its grip on the third seed in the Foothill League but will need a couple big wins over West Ranch and another payback win over Valencia to potentially snag the second seed.
“I just want to go out with a bang,” said Holloway. “I just want to continue to keep us hyped throughout entire games and finish league strong.”
Saugus is expecting to have Lee back in the lineup next week. The team has been close to untouchable at full strength and will look to get back in sync next week. The Centurions have a great shot at taking league in the upcoming weeks but have just a few more games to close out.
Hart was set to host Castaic Thursday while Saugus returns home Friday to face Golden Valley.