By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
Two teams on big win streaks collided Wednesday but the Centurion girls volleyball team (15-0, 2-0) would come away with its 15th consecutive win Wednesday with a victory over Valencia (8-4, 2-1) at La Mesa Junior High.
Saugus won with scores of 25-9, 25-19 and 25-20, ending Valencia’s seven-game win streak.
Both teams had their share of obstacles in the gym, dealing with low ceilings and less than 6 feet of space on three sides of the court.
However, inside the court, some things don’t change as opposite hitter Taylor Treahy again led the Centurions with 18 kills.
Everything clicked from the get go on the Centurion side. Saugus’ passing, attacking, blocking and serving were all looking sharp, showing the strength and balance of this team. The defense is one area that really stands out about this team. Their blocking and passers were in great positions just about every time Valencia sent the ball over.
“We could be better,” said Saugus head coach Zach Ambrose. “I like the way we played. We’re a pretty good team but I think we need to make some more improvements.”
Saugus ran away with the first set. Outside hitter Leila Ballard was one of several Centurions to power the offense over Valencia.
“Milani Lee, our setter, is the best setter I’ve ever had,” said Ballard. “She’s the only reason I’m doing what I’m doing.”
Ballard finished the night with 12 kills.
Strong passing and serving from libero Gabby Cascione has kept the Saugus offense running smooth all year and the sophomore was lights-out yet again.
“We don’t have any weak spots,” said Cascione. “We’re good all around.”
Valencia would push Saugus much harder in the second and third sets, giving them tighter fights than the Centurions are accustomed to this season. After all, they’ve allowed opposing teams to reach over 20 points in a set only four times.
“Our team chemistry last year was amazing but this year we’re clicking so well,” said Cascione.
Valencia notched its first solid lead of the game but Saugus would pull away late in the second.
In the third set, Valencia came out with the same grit and determination, believing they could win the set with their backs up against the wall.
“We’ve been focusing on the game as a whole,” said Valencia head coach Kristin Dolan. “No one position really, just making sure when we have the ball we are taking better care of it on our side. Saugus is big and physical. If you give them too many opportunities they’re going to put them away.”
The team kept firing balls on the net while the passers were consistently hitting the deck, diving for every ball.
Ambrose would use both his timeouts when the Vikings creeped up on the lead, first midway through the set then late in the set.
The Centurions took the game back and went on a 4-1 run to finish the set and match. Sophomore Morgan Guardado smacked down the game-winning kill after a slow day for the outside hitter.
“That’s a sophomore,” Ambrose said. “There’s just an instinct in there. Even when she’s struggling, she’ll go out and want to make that kill. She won’t back away from it. I know she was frustrated but even in that moment at game point, she was able to go after it and not hesitate.”
Valencia looks a lot stronger since starting 1-3 this season. The loss to Saugus ended the Vikings’ seven-game win streak including a first-place finish at the Burbank Tournament.
Valencia outside hitter Hailey McKell swung hard on the net consistently and led her team with seven kills.
Dolan knows what the team will work on and will look to have them ready in their rematch on Thursday, Sept. 15, at Valencia.
Saugus was set to face off with Castaic Thursday before traveling to the Whittier Tournament for a weekend of challenging games.
The Vikings were looking to get back on the win streak Thursday when the team returned home to host Simi Valley for their third game in three days.