West Ranch back on track; sweeps Castaic  

Sophia Lynch (9) of West Ranch puts a shot over the net against Castaic defender Haidya Tekinceer (13) at Castaic High School on Tuesday, 091322. Dan Watson/The Signal

Wildcats’ girls volleyball (4-4) got a much-needed win after blasting the home Castaic Coyotes (1-9) 3-0 on Tuesday.  

West Ranch won with scores of 25-16, 25-14 and 25-8. 

The Wildcats were led by middle blocker Sophia Lynch, who slammed down seven kills. 

Castaic kept it close early in the set. After being down 5-1 the team had a surge with outside hitter Peyton Schneider on the serving line.  

Schneider led the Coyotes with nine kills and an ace. 

A Schneider ace tied the game at 9-9 but West Ranch began tightening the screws. The Wildcats would begin to pull away thanks to consecutive aces by setter Abigail Hodge.  

West Ranch teammate Jadyn Tunnell (8) looks on as Natlie Krantz (28) returns a shot by Castaic High at Castaic High School on Tuesday, 091322. Dan Watson/The Signal

Hodge and Madison Spanza were the third and fourth setters the Wildcats have attempted to utilize this year. The team’s starter transferred and new freshman setter Dani Clewis is currently out with COVID-19. There were only a few mishaps on the setters’ timing but West Ranch’s hitters were able to get good swings on the majority of balls. 

Nonetheless, the team found a way to hit and block better to close the set, ending with a Tori Davis kill.  

Karolina Bilik (15) of Castaic High puts up a shot against West Ranch defender Victoria Davis (11) at Castaic High School on Tuesday, 091322. Dan Watson/The Sign

“I have a group of good volleyball players,” said Wildcats head coach Jamey Ker. “They all understand how to pass, set and hit well. Their fundamentals are down. It’s now a matter of making their volleyball IQ’s a little bit higher.” 

Castaic had its share of lineup changes as well. Head coach Taylor Schubert used three setters in the game, trying to find the right recipe for success. 

“I’m trying to find my lineup,” said Schubert. “I don’t have one that I’ve liked. It’s good one day then the next it’s not, so we’re just trying to find a lineup I like so we can work and build on that.” 

The Wildcats kept firing away and jumped out to an early lead in the second set. The Coyotes on the other hand were their own worst enemy, registering hitting errors, net violations and doubles to go along with bad passes. Sloppy passing ended the second set as yet another ball hit the ground off of the Coyotes’ second touch. 

Bridget Conley (25) of West Ranch puts a shot over the net against Rylee Braxhoofden (44) of Castaic High at Castaic High School on Tuesday, 091322. Dan Watson/The Signal

The heat waves, COVID-19 and referee shortage have all played a part in canceling and flexing numerous practices and games for both teams. The Coyotes and Wildcats had their fair share of rusty moments thanks to their lack of time on the court these past few weeks. 

“It’s been a weird season so far but I think the girls have done a really good job of staying positive and just being excited over the fact we can play,” said Ker. “Silver linings.” 

Castaic had flashes where the game looked evenly matched. The team had fantastic blocks, digs, hits and serves but couldn’t find a consistent groove.  

“We have flashes and moments,” said Schubert. “We’re just yet to put it all together for sets and matches.” 

Castaic girls volleyball coach Taylor Schubert. 091322. Dan Watson/The Signal

It only got worse in the third as the Coyotes struggled to return balls to West Ranch. The passers couldn’t get clean balls to their setters and a 14-1 Wildcat run ensued.  

West Ranch never let up and ended the game with another ace from Hodge. 

Castaic had its struggles but Schubert has been proud of the team’s dedication and grind this season. 

The Coyotes are in their first year with a senior class but still have the growing pains of any new program. Schubert has plenty of talent and growth on the team that she is proud of. This Coyote team may struggle at times but will never go down easy. 

West Ranch has the talented lineup for a strong season but Ker still believes there is plenty of work to be done with a ton of season left on the schedule. 

Both teams will be on the road Thursday as West Ranch heads to Canyon while Castaic heads to Golden Valley.  

Jasmine Mancnicoll (48) and Karolina Bilik (15) of Castaic High celebrate a point against West Ranch at Castaic High School on Tuesday, 091322. Dan Watson/The Signal

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