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Valencia does the expected

Vikings volleyball team begins postseason with three-game victory

Posted: May 15, 2009 9:54 p.m.
Updated: May 16, 2009 4:55 a.m.
None of the Valencia High boys volleyball team’s current players were credited with a single statistic during last year’s run to a CIF-Southern Section Division II championship.

But that doesn’t mean they can’t play.

The completely rebuilt Vikings, finally getting their shot to show their stuff with last year’s starters playing college volleyball now, started their first playoff as starters Friday the same way every other Viking team starts its playoffs: with a first-round home victory.

Valencia swept Simi Valley 32-30, 25-17, 25-23 to advance to the second round of the Division II playoffs.

The Foothill League champion Vikings (20-11) will face El Modena in the second round.

El Modena beat Arcadia in four.

Having just taken the opportunity to add to the program’s Foothill League title streak with a 10-0 year, this year’s group was eager for its first shot to add to a playoff tradition.

“We wanted to show everybody that this isn’t a down year for Valencia,” said Viking junior Josh Duarte. “We feel like we have a chance to go all the way like we always do.”

It looked like it Friday.

The Vikings showed poise in the opening game, fighting off four consecutive game points to pull out a 32-30 win. Valencia had trailed 24-23, 25-24, 26-25 and 27-26.

Not bad for a team with no playoff experience.

“They handled that pressure really well,” said Valencia head coach Mark Knudsen. “And I’m really pleased that after getting through that tough game, they didn’t let up at all.”

In fact, after trailing 8-7 early in the second game, the Vikings exploded.

Valencia went on a 10-2 run to take a commanding lead, cruising to a 25-17 victory. From there, the Vikings didn’t ease up, completing the sweep with a win in the third.

The Vikings pummeled Simi Valley (9-8) with a balanced attack.

Broc Oppler led the way with 11 kills. Daniel Johnson and Jon Souisa each added nine. Mitchel Morris contributed seven kills and Duarte rounded things out with six.

The goal going forward, despite the massive roster turnover from last year’s Division II and national champion, is the same as the Vikings have set for themselves every year.

The Vikings have won four of the past eight Division II titles and have reached the finals in all but one of those seasons. In that year, 2007, the team still reached the semifinals.

Nothing less will satisfy.

“I absolutely feel this team has a chance,” Knudsen said. “This is one down and several more to go. We’re a much better team than these playoffs team saw earlier this year.”


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