Hart senior Owen Douphner set a new program record for kills on Saturday and Indians boys’ volleyball needed every bit of it.
Douphner hammered down 39 kills in a road playoff match against the Woodbridge Warriors. The senior also led the team with 17 digs.
Hart won the CIF Division 4 second-round battle, 26-28, 25-15, 25-17, 16-25, 15-13.
Defensive adjustments were critical for the Indians (29-5) to reach success, and the squad was ready for the challenge. Woodbridge (12-11) utilizes two athletic middle blockers, which Hart was able to slow down with some nice passing. Libero Isaac Kim tallied 16 digs, while outside hitter Hank Kaufman, like Douphner, also finished with the double-double with 17 kills and 10 digs.
Hart lost multiple leads in the fifth set but its passing made the game-clinching play for match point. A dig from Kaufman set up a clean look for setter Tanner Andrew, who rode the hot hand and fed Douphner the match-sealing kill.
Indians coach Loy Mueller believes his setter was in total control of the game.
“Tanner controlled the game really well,” Mueller said in a phone interview. “He did a nice job understanding what Woodbridge was giving us and attacking it. He had a ton of control in just his second season playing with the team.”
Andrew finished with 54 assists on the night.
The Indians are becoming known for slow starts but even with not playing at their best, the team still pushed the Warriors to 28-26 for the opener.
“We definitely started slow,” Mueller said. “We just made a few errors at the beginning of the match that set the tone for the set. We couldn’t generate any momentum because mistakes were stopping us.”
Hart clamped down in the second and third, winning with ease before the team felt a little too comfortable in the fourth game.
“In the second and third sets we looked more like ourselves,” Mueller said. “We definitely picked up on the blocking we talked about at practice. We were more disruptive on the block. We applied a lot more adjustments because they did exactly what they showed us on tape. So, we played much cleaner defense, which led to much cleaner offense.”
The Indians will now advance to the CIF quarterfinals and match up with a familiar opponent. The team will head up north to face the Quartz Hill Royals (27-8).
The two teams met earlier this season in a tournament match, which Hart won in straight sets. Both teams knew a potential playoff matchup with one another was possible so chose not to play all their cards in the previous matchup.
Hart remains on the road and heads to Quartz Hill on Wednesday at 6 p.m.