Girls’ volleyball playoff preview 

Photo Courtesy of Jamie Cascione.

A highly competitive regular season of girls’ volleyball has concluded in the Santa Clarita Valley. Six local teams will now head into the playoffs looking to go on a run. 

Three local teams will host playoff matches Thursday night while two more will be on the road. 

Saugus will return to its floor Saturday as the Centurions’ outstanding year earned the team a first-round bye. 

Here’s everything you need to know about the first round of playoffs. 

The champs earn a first-round bye 

The Centurions officially capped off an incredible regular season. Saugus won its first Foothill League championship in 11 years and enters the playoffs as the top-ranked team in Division 4, but the job isn’t done yet. 

Saugus’ deep playoff run was a pleasant surprise for the team last year. The Centurions returned the bulk of key players and, to the surprise of few, dominated in a season with just two losses and seven dropped sets. 

Long-Beach-bound setter Milani Lee led a fast-paced offense that stood out with weapons everywhere. Opposite hitter Taylor Treahy had a phenomenal year with 312 kills. Outsides Leila Ballard and Morgan Guardado finished second and third in kills with excellent kill percentages. 

The defense showed equally strong play. Most of the players head coach Zach Ambrose was playing up front have displayed great hands over the net and consistently made contact. In the back row, the nonchalant libero Gabriella Cascione has just about always been under opposing hits. The sophomore libero finished her regular season with 299 digs. 

Saugus will host the winner of Warren and Thousand Oaks on Saturday, Oct. 22. 

Hart to host San Marcos 

Hart has to like its chances in its playoff opener. The Indians and Royals faced off twice already this year with both games falling in favor of Hart. 

The Indians won’t take anyone for granted and will prepare diligently for a team they know and respect. 

The main focus will be Royals outside hitter Elena Thomas, who has racked up about 300 kills this year. Middle hitter Eloise McGibben and outside Riley Green are also formidable hitters for San Marcos. 

McGibben led the Royals in the team’s second loss to Hart with 12 kills on a ridiculous .750 kill percentage.  

The Indians will need to keep the offense balanced and the touches spread out. Even with some of the huge nights junior Madi Maxwell has had, setter Morgan Dumlao has given all of her hitters plenty of chances. 

Round three of Royals and Indians gets going on Thursday, at Hart at 6 p.m. 

Valencia opens up against Westridge 

The Vikings will be the other Foothill League team hosting on Thursday. Valencia will welcome the Westridge Tigers from Pasadena.  

Valencia capped off its best regular season in five years and will now look for its first playoff win since then. 

The Vikings’ blocking looked great toward the end of the season. The offense is loaded with weapons, giving the team an edge in just about every match. 

Valencia Vikings libero Keira Mcinnes (12) cheers with her team after winning a point in the second set of a league match between the Valencia Vikings and the West Ranch Wildcats at the West Ranch High School gymnasium on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2022. The Vikings defeated the Wildcats 3 sets to 1. Chris Torres/The Signal

Outside hitter Hailey McKell and middle blocker Brooklyn Cohen have been the go-to hitters this year. If Westridge catches on to that, look for Tara Gaspar, Nelia Trower or Makena Schaumloeffel to have potentially big games. 

Valencia hosts Westridge Thursday at 6 p.m. 

SCCS hosts Oak Park 

The reigning CIF Division 8 and Division 5 state champs are looking for more. Santa Clarita Christian posted another incredible year with a 20-2, 13-1 record.  

Now in Division 6, the first step in getting back to the top will be through Oak Park. The Eagles (6-17, 3-5) don’t have a fearsome record like other playoff teams but they have battled tough competition all year. 

SCCS is riding high into the playoffs. The team has dropped just four sets since Aug. 30. 

Opposite hitter Kaysa Brown is looking to lead her team to another CIF and state title. Her mother and head coach, Darcy Brown, will take it one game at a time with the Cards, starting with Oak Park. 

The Eagles and Cardinals face off Thursday at 6 p.m. 

West Ranch heads to Serrano 

The Wildcats hit a nice stride at the end of their regular season. The team picked up a big 3-1 win over Hart as well as taking down Castaic and Golden Valley. 

They’ll need all the momentum they can get as they drew the undefeated Serrano Diamondbacks (22-0, 10-0) in their CIF Division 3 opener. 

Serrano’s record speaks for itself but on top of it, the team has dropped just three sets on the year. The Diamondbacks’ two stars will both likely end up with 300-kill seasons. Senior Madison Digirogio is already at 314 kills while Lauren Gott is sitting at 294. 

The Wildcats will need to keep firing on all cylinders with big swings from Sophia Lynch, Tori Davis and Kennedy Osunsanmi. 

Serrano was knocked off in the third round last year by Saugus. They’ll look to handle one of the SCV’s best this time around. 

The Diamondbacks host the Cats Thursday at 6 p.m. 

Valencia Vikings outside hitter Kailey Mckell (8) hits the ball while West Ranch blockers Kennedy Osunsanmi (22) and Victoria Davis (11) attempt to block it in the second set of a league match between the Valencia Vikings and the West Ranch Wildcats at the West Ranch High School gymnasium on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2022. The Vikings defeated the Wildcats 3 sets to 1. Chris Torres/The Signal

Trinity on the road against Coastal Christian 

The Knights fell just short of retaking the Heritage League crown. Trinity had a bit of a stumble at the end of its season, dropping five of its last eight games. However, the Knights have proven throughout the season they can play with top teams in the Southern Section. 

Trinity’s first task will be taking care of the Coastal Christian Conquerors (19-7-2, 12-0). 

Senior outside hitter Jocelyn Olmstead will be the biggest factor for Coastal. Trinity will need to be all over Olmstead’s hits as she leads the team with 237 kills. No other Conqueror is within 150 kills of the senior. 

The Knights have quite a few options on offense. Senior middle Jordan Hahn has been a staple for the team while outside hitters Emma Carver and Bethany Seddy have big swings for Trinity. 

Trinity is looking for another big run in the playoffs, something the program is accustomed to. The Knights went down in the second round last year and fell just short in the CIF Division 8 championship game just three years ago. 

Trinity heads to Pismo Beach to face Coastal Christian on Thursday at 6 p.m. 

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