Douphner reaches 1,000 kills in wildcard win 

West Ranch outside hitter Noah Douphner (21) goes for the kill against Tustin during Tuesday's game at West Ranch High School on April 23. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal

West Ranch junior Noah Douphner eclipsed a major feat at the perfect time on Tuesday night. 

The Wildcats’ 3-1 wildcard win over the visiting Tustin Tillers pushes West Ranch into the Division 4 bracket.  

West Ranch (20-11) won the play-in match, 25-17, 22-25, 25-9, 25-20, behind 24 kills from Douphner.  

The junior knew he only needed to put away 17 balls to hit 1,000 career kills, but was more focused on the win.  

“I knew leading into the match that I needed 17 kills to get up to it,” Douphner said. “During the match I was focused on playing hard and I wasn’t focused on it at all. I was asked a lot if I ran a special play to get a kill specifically for 1,000, and I didn’t. I just did it on a whim.”  

Noah Douphner is honored after his 1000th kill. Photo Courtesy of West Ranch boys’ volleyball.

Douphner fired down his 1,000th kill in the third game with a huge swing from the middle that had no chance of being recovered.  

“It felt awesome to say the least,” Douphner said. “I honestly didn’t know in the moment until after I got the kill and I thought, ‘Man these cheers are going a lot longer than usual.’ Then I looked in the crowd and saw the signs and I just honestly felt amazing.” 

West Ranch took care of Tustin (18-13) behind a complete team win. The home team only stumbled in the second set but still felt well in control heading into the second. 

“They’re high school athletes, and it’s really hard to maintain consistency throughout the entire match,” said Cats coach Brandon Johnson. “For Tustin, they knew that they had to respond after set one, and they did. Our level of play dropped as well. We were still very confident in the way we were playing and we knew that we needed to clean up a few things as far as errors and as far as picking up our defense a little bit. We responded very, very well in set three.”  

The Cats passed and hit well with some excellent serving on the end line from the team and Lucas Reuter. 

The middle blocker Reuter fired off eight straight serves to power his team ahead in the lopsided third set before Douphner’s 1,000-mark made it 24-9. 

West Ranch opposite hitter Lucas Reuter (12) hits the ball over the net against Tustin’s defense during Tuesday’s game at West Ranch High School on April 23. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal

Douphner totaled a mere five hitting errors on the night with four in the second set. Needless to say, the junior turned the heat up for the final two games. 

“(Douphner) is a bad man and he played fantastic,” Johnson said. 

Douphner accomplishes this feat, which thousands of four-year players don’t achieve, in his junior year. To make it more impressive, the junior missed nearly the entirety of his sophomore year with an injury and has missed a few matches this season trying out for the U.S. Men’s National U19 team. On top of that, as a freshman, he played on the right side across from a league MVP. 

West Ranch celebrates winning a point during Tuesday’s game against Tustin on April 23. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal

“It just kind of shows what a special player and kid that he is,” Johnson said. “I think more than anything else is that, even last year when he was injured and out, he was a coach on the bench. He was there supporting his teammates and he was working to get not only himself better, but the team better. He knows what he needs to do to make the team successful on the court but he also put them to work off the court to help not only the team but himself and everyone else around him. … He’s an outstanding kid. He’s an outstanding athlete, a great student and he deserves all the flowers.” 

The Wildcats now advance into the Division 4 bracket with a road match with the Diamond Bar Panthers. 

West Ranch rides high into the opening-round showdown as winners of six straight, but will need another great showing from the entire team to take down the Hacienda League champion Diamond Bar. 

West Ranch opposite hitter Ethan Paik (8) puts the ball over the net against Tustin’s defense during Tuesday’s game at West Ranch High School on April 23. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal

The Wildcats and Panthers claw at each other on Thursday at 6 p.m. at Diamond Bar High School. 

Douphner has high hopes for his team and potentially keeping the Division 4 title in Santa Clarita. A West Ranch championship would not only keep the CIF crown in town, it’d remain in the Douphner household as his brother, Owen Douphner, led Hart to the title last season. 

“I’m really excited. I think this team can do something really special,” Douphner said. “We have a great group of guys and I think we can make something happen. We’re focusing on one match at a time and making sure we do what we do best.” 

Coach Brandon Johnson and Noah Douphner celebrate after the junior’s 1000th kill. Photo Courtesy of West Ranch boys’ volleyball.

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