2023 boys’ volleyball playoff preview 

Valencia outsider hitter Jarek Pascua (6) goes for a hit over Hart setter Tanner Andrew (17) in the fourth set of a Foothill League match between Hart and Valencia High Schools at Valencia on Thursday, March 23, 2023. Hart won in five sets. Chris Torres/The Signal
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Five local boys’ volleyball teams punched their tickets into the playoffs last week and now know their path to the CIF crown. 

Here’s everything you need to know for the SCV’s upcoming boys’ volleyball postseason: 
Hart hosts Simi Valley 

The Indians broke the 30-year curse and officially won the Foothill League on Thursday. Hart spent most of the year ranked second in Division 4 and earned that seed heading into the postseason. 

Hart had to wait until Tuesday to find out its first-round opponent but is officially preparing for the Simi Valley Pioneers. Simi swept Rio Mesa in the wildcard round and will now make the trip over to Newhall. 

The Pioneers will look to slow down the fast-paced Hart attack led by outside hitters Owen Douphner and Hank Kaufman. However, when the two have been focused on by opponents, other Indians have stepped up in bigger roles. Seniors Gabe Stokes and Brandom Derham may get some more touches on the net from setter Tanner Andrew, while libero Isaac Kim will add another tough serve to the deep lineup. 

The Indians host their first playoff match in four years on Thursday when Hart takes on Simi Valley at 6 p.m. 

Valencia draws familiar foe 

The Vikings fell just a set short of winning a co-league championship with Hart. Valencia has moved on to the postseason where its eyes lie on the next goal, the Division 3 title. 

The Vikings will make the drive to Oak Park to take on the Eagles (16-5, 7-1). The Vikings fell to Oak Park earlier this season in a 2-0 tournament loss. 

The Eagles have won five of their last seven matches, with neither loss coming in straight sets. Valencia has coincidentally won seven of its last nine, also with a pair of extra-set losses.  

The Vikings are amped for the rematch and enter the match playing some of their best volleyball. Sophomore Jet Ricks has 40 kills in his last three matches, while outside hitter Jarek Pascua has hit well and finished with double-digit kill totals in his last nine outings. 

Valencia heads to Oak Park for round one of the CIF playoffs on Thursday at 6 p.m. 

Golden Valley beats Providence in wildcard match, heads to Troy 

Golden Valley (20-7) finished third in the Foothill League for the first time in over 10 years and will enter the playoffs for the first time in six years.  

The Grizzlies entered the Division 4 playoffs via the wildcard round and swept the hosting Providence Pioneers (17-10-1). Golden Valley will remain on the road for the next round.  

Golden Valley has a ton of firepower on the net, where setter Oliver Boton spreads the offense out. Outside hitters JC Navarro and Ryan Ko will both be key for the Grizzlies, while a plethora of middle blockers can be a spark plug at any time. 

Golden Valley outside hitter Ryan Ko (7) digs a serve during a Foothill League match at Golden Valley High School on Friday, March 3, 2023. Hart defeated Golden Valley in five sets. Chris Torres/The Signal

The Pioneers took some bumps on their way into the playoffs and enter on a four-game skid. The Grizzlies are winners of four of their last five matches and will hope to extend their season. 

Golden Valley heads to Troy on Thursday at 6 p.m. 

Saugus goes down in five to Downey in wildcard battle 

The Centurions made some noise this season with first-year head coach Kaitlyn Reiner. The team drew the fourth seed in league and fell just short in their road playoff battle with the Downey Vikings on Tuesday. 

Senior Taylor Phipps’ monster season officially came to an end with a 23-kill performance. Nicholas Ciccone followed with nine kills while Max Guardado slammed down eight. 

Taylor Phipps (1) of Saugus puts a shot over the net against Golden Valley defender Oliver Boton (13) at Saugus on Thursday, 030923. Dan Watson/The Signal

Saugus dropped the opening set against Downey but bounced back to take a 2-1 lead in the match. However, errors piled up in the fourth set, forcing the Cents to lose their seven-point lead. 

Downey then turned up the heat from the endline in the final game and fired in some tough serves to pull away from Saugus in five. 

“Overall, the guys really played a tough match and left everything out on the court,” Reiner said in a phone interview. “No matter the outcome of the game, we ended the season the way I wanted them to, which was with effort, playing hard, and playing together as a team.” 

Trinity hosts Mesrobian  

The Knights will enter the playoffs in the program’s second year back at the school. 

Trinity earned a first-round Division 6 home match with the Mesrobian Bulldogs. 

The Knights have a balanced team that can hurt opponents from all over the floor. Senior Mario Bethke had an outstanding year for Trinity. Bethke’s big serve and hitting on the net will be a tough assignment for the Bulldogs. Junior Jed Browning and freshman Skyler Hillemann also have strong swings that have helped the Knights to finish the year on a three-game win streak. 

Jed Browning (22) of Trinity Classical Academy puts a shot over the net against Castaic defenders Quinn Broadwater (2) and Dunstan Loego (77) at Castaic High on Tuesday, 022123. Dan Watson/The Signal

Trinity has gotten plenty of credit this season in the CIF polls and will fight to demonstrate why the team should’ve been ranked higher. 

The Knights host Mesrobian on Thursday at 5 p.m. 

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