After a perfect weekend of tournament play, West Ranch Wildcats girls’ volleyball took its first loss of the season on Tuesday in the team’s non-league matchup with the Campbell Hall Vikings.
The CIF runner up Campbell Hall spoiled West Ranch’s home opener with a straight-set win, taking the match 25-20, 25-15 and 25-21.
The Cats (2-1) were led by senior opposite hitter Kennedy Osunsanmi with a match-high 17 kills.
West Ranch struggled to get multiple players going on offense as the Vikings’ passing was seemingly under every hit.
The Wildcats took their first lead of the match in the third game. West Ranch took multiple leads in the back-and-forth decisive set but passing woes and unforced errors ended the night in a sweep.
Cats head coach Jamey Ker saw his team make great plays but just not enough for the victory.
“It’s a common occurrence where we’re doing a lot of the right things but just well enough,” Ker said. “Throughout the match, I told them, ‘We’re doing the right stuff. You just have to keep doing it. Don’t try and do anything fancy here. Just keep doing the right stuff that we’ve practiced and that we know how to do and trust that that’s going to eventually start to click for you. We’re going to figure it out.”
Campbell Hall (1-0) is hot off a sectional runner-up season, with numerous returners. All-CIF senior outside hitter Mila Mijailovic led the Vikes with 12 kills while Ella Del Pero added four kills and as many aces.
Osunsanmi took the majority of swings early in the game but Ker saw the team turn up the heat in the third set after sophomore setter Dani Clewis started moving the ball around.
“Dani, our setter, did a much better job of moving things around and making better choices,” Ker said. “That’s been the biggest difference between her from last year as a freshman and this year. Not only is she touching the ball better, but she’s just making better choices. Her volleyball IQ has gotten higher and in the position she plays, that’s pretty much a requirement.”
Clewis is a sophomore captain for West Ranch and displayed immense improvements after being the Wildcats’ freshman setter last season. Along with her pile of assists, the setter finished with two blocks and an ace.
Senior outside hitter Jadyn Tunnell tallied six kills in the match.
“I really do think that the third set, despite it ending in a loss, still was our best set,” Ker said. “I think we trusted the process pretty well. That match served its purpose in the sense that we played a great team who challenged us a lot, and we worked on the things we needed to work on. So what more could you want other than a win?”
Ker is excited for the future of West Ranch. The program is looking to retake the Foothill League crown after missing out last season for the first time since 2018.
Osunsanmi, a UCLA commit, will be one of the better opposite hitters in the league this year. She has displayed positive growth on and off the court.
“The cool thing is I’ve watched Kennedy come back this season and she’s shown some growth and improvement in places that have taken a long time to get there,” Ker said. “She has a bigger personality than she ever has been before. She’s always been a great player but a very stoic player, and that’s starting to change a bit more. I can see the wheels turning in her mind and realizing that if she talks and puts thought into what she’s doing and ask questions, she’s going to get more out of herself. So I’m really seeing that huge growth from her and it’s exciting. Her defense has gotten significantly better because of that.”
Tuesday wasn’t the opposite hitter’s best day on the court, but 17 kills and an ace in a three-set loss is still more than a solid mark.
“(Kennedy’s) always been a force at the net but we do need her to be more consistent than she was tonight,” Ker said. “She’s great, but she made a few too many errors. But I think with Danny improving with her setting choices and Kennedy improving in a way that I know she’s intent on improving, that it will fix itself.”
West Ranch will travel to Quartz Hill on Thursday for another non-league match. The team then heads back to the Lakewood Tournament over the weekend, where the Cats will jump into the semifinals after a perfect start last weekend.