Golden Valley Grizzlies girls’ volleyball held off the scrappy hosting Castaic Coyotes on Wednesday.
The Grizzlies won the Foothill League match 25-21, 18-25, 25-11, 25-18, and were led by senior Megan Moreno with 15 kills.
Moreno got off to a slow start in the first two sets but found her rhythm after a lopsided loss in the second set.
The Grizzlies (7-4, 3-4) put their second set behind them and looked nothing like the team that just walked off in the third. Moreno caught fire and more than doubled her kill total in the first few points. The senior had an early run with four quick kills and a block to push Golden Valley to an early 6-2 lead.
“I think we just started communicating more,” Moreno said. “We all gathered ourselves mentally and physically.”
Moreno tallied nine points in the third set.
The black and gold have hitters all over the court, giving setter Naomi Smith an easy job of spreading the ball around. Eight different Grizzlies registered kills, something new for Sean Parchejo’s Golden Valley squad.
“We usually go to our top two hitters,” Parchejo said. “Today we really wanted to expand on that and be more dimensional. Today was a good opportunity for us to try that but Castaic did so well. We weren’t really able to experiment as much as I would like to have because we really still had to take care of Castaic, who didn’t let us have an easy day.”
Golden Valley pulled away in the first set after going punch for punch with Castaic (3-13-1, 0-8). The Grizzlies’ blocking woke up and started forcing tough looks as well as sending the Coyotes scrambling.
The Grizzlies overcame seven service errors to win the set but somehow dropped the second set, where the team only failed to put two serves in play.
The Coyotes rode some self-made momentum and sparked early to a 9-3 lead. While that lead somewhat slipped away, Castaic recharged. Freshman Layla Buela slammed down four of her team-high kills to push the Coyotes atop.
Once the Grizzlies shook off the rust, it was all Grizzlies. Moreno led the way in the third but outside hitter Sophie Smith did most of her damage in the fourth, where she tallied four of her eight kills. Golden Valley jumped to a quick 6-0 lead in the final set and Castaic couldn’t recover from the early deficit.
“I for sure think this team has potential,” Moreno said. “Everyone here plays their part on the team, everyone has a role. I think that our setter spreading the ball around is really great. It opens us up.”
Both teams featured multiple underclassmen in starting roles. The Grizzlies have two starting freshmen in outside hitter Kayla Rust and libero Sophia Petrillo. The two are in vital roles and have helped pushed Golden Valley into the win column this season.
Castaic features the freshman Buela and sophomore setter Claudia Martinez. It wasn’t an overnight process for the two to adjust to the varsity speed, but Coyotes coach Taylor Schubert has seen her young stars take a huge jump in the past few weeks and the team has thrived since.
“The last couple of weeks they’ve really stepped it up,” Schubert said. “I’ve known they can do it, but it’s been these last couple of weeks where I think they’ve really settled into the speed and strength of it. It’s been making a difference. We’ve been playing a lot better at the back end of the season right now.”
The second set was Castaic’s first league game taken of the year and came just days after the team caught fire at the Crescenta Valley tournament. The Coyotes won the bronze division and hope to continue their momentum into the final weeks of league play. Castaic has taken strides in its second year of varsity play. Schubert will hope to see the same battle in all of the team’s matches knowing each league matchup will be tough.
“Keep trying to take as many sets as we can, that’s our goal,” Schubert said. “Obviously a match would be amazing, but our goal is to get sets, do as best as we can and maybe surprise a few teams.
Schubert’s team features five seniors, giving the second-year head coach hope that success may just be on the horizon.
“We’re getting ready for the future, I have a lot of young kids,” Schubert said. “So if we can keep getting them the reps and the experience that they need, we’re going to be a lot better next year.”
The Grizzlies have a solid squad and are a few wins away from the program’s first potential playoff berth. Parchejo has seen his young team stay disciplined and stay the course of his strategic gameplans.
“Our discipline, we really respond to the numbers we get from the games,” Parchejo said. “We like to adjust so we can really get to know this Foothill League so we can have a chance for each game.”
The Grizzlies will get their next shot at another league win on Tuesday when the team heads to Canyon. Golden Valley defeated the Cowboys in five sets in their previous matchup but the Grizzlies need this win and a win over Valencia to just about secure their playoff path.
“The goal since the beginning of the season has been to make playoffs,” Moreno said. “I think what’s really going to do for us is if we beat Valencia on our senior night. That’s gonna be a really tough game for us and we have to beat Canyon as well, but I know that our team can do it.”
Golden Valley heads to Canyon on Tuesday, while Castaic returns home to host Hart on Thursday.