Centurion girls’ volleyball (30-2) swept their CIF Division 4 second-round match against the Thousand Oaks Lancers (22-16).
Saugus won with scores of 25-19, 25-13 and 25-23.
The Centurions were led on offense by opposite hitter Taylor Treahy. The junior knocked down 17 kills, seven digs and a pair of aces.
The first set was all about outside Leila Ballard though. Ballard had the hot hand and hammered seven kills in the first set alone to power Saugus to victory.
“I wasn’t the most confident during warmups because I didn’t do very well but I got the first kill of the game and I was very excited about it,” said Ballard. “I was hyped up. I was ready to take the rest of the game that way.”
Ballard finished her night with 11 kills on a ridiculous .611 kill percentage. The junior outside has felt her swing improve late in the season and has the versatility to slam the ball to various spots.
One of Ballard’s hits sent Thousand Oaks’ star Leah Curtain to the ground with a hard hit to the head. Curtain showed she was fine immediately by getting her own kill on the next play.
Curtain, one of the Lancers’ top offensive players, finished with just six kills.
Senior middle Shelby Scott would win the first set with a kill but her defense on the net made life difficult for Thousand Oaks.
“The first two games we were awesome,” said Saugus head coach Zach Ambrose. “We were a little bit rusty. We hadn’t played tough competition in a couple of weeks. That worried me but they came out and they played well.”
Scott and nearly all the Saugus blockers had hands on the majority of the Lancer hits. She finished her day with five kills and seven blocks.
“It’s amazing to be on this team,” said Scott. “The girls are so supportive of one another and we’re basically just like one big family. So that definitely helps with our chemistry on the court, too.”
The Centurions went after the second set even harder and flew to a big lead thanks to a 9-1 run. The offense kept firing while the defense held its own, leading to a quick second-set victory.
Thousand Oaks came out swinging in the third set. The Lancers made it clear they wouldn’t roll over and be sent home so easily but Saugus was ready.
Libero Gabriela Cascione had another spectacular game with 17 digs and kept the Centurions alive throughout the game.
“I think Gabby our libero, just solid as ever,” said Ambrose, “but when we really needed it didn’t let a single ball fall anywhere near her in that third game. That gave us extra chances to score.”
Thousand Oaks managed to work up a 19-16 lead, forcing the Centurions to take a timeout. Ambrose told his team to slow it down, do the basic things and minimize the errors.
Saugus would go on a 9-4 run to close out the game and end the Lancers’ season. Kills by Morgan Guardado and Naomi Greer cut the lead but couldn’t tie the game. Setter Milani Lee went to her most clutch player when she needed it most and Scott delivered again with a kill to tie the game at 21-21.
The Lancers would nearly steal game three but kills from Ballard and Treahy got the Centurions up to 24 points before a Scott block won the game.
It was a tight game at the end but Saugus’ roster is filled with CIF experience, which is invaluable to this team.
“It’s rare,” said Ambrose. “At 23-all, I told the girls I had confidence that they’re going to win the game, because we’d been in that situation before. They played a lot of tough matches throughout the year and every time that we’ve had to do it, we’ve come through.”
Saugus will remain home to host Trabuco Hills in the Division 4 quarterfinals on Wednesday.
“It feels really good,” said Scott after her game winner. “Like I definitely feel like we have a really good shot at winning CIF this year. I’m just really excited for that ride with them.”