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Prep volleyball: Sweep, but not so easy

Valencia gets a run for its money by upstart Canyon

Posted: October 5, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 5, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Valencia’s Lindsey Knudsen, left, sets for Teresa Cernosek (88) against Canyon at Canyon High on Thursday. Valencia’s Lindsey Knudsen, left, sets for Teresa Cernosek (88) against Canyon at Canyon High on Thursday.
Valencia’s Lindsey Knudsen, left, sets for Teresa Cernosek (88) against Canyon at Canyon High on Thursday.

Sandwiched between a match last Thursday’s match with Saugus and next Tuesday’s contest with Hart, CIF-Southern Section Division I-A No. 6 Valencia had what can be characterized as a classic trap game when it traveled to take on upstart Canyon on Thursday night.

The Cowboys kept things close, especially in the first two games of the match, but Valencia went on to sweep 25-23, 26-24, 25-19.

“We walked in with the mind-set that this is a match we should win and we could win and we did win,” said Valencia head coach Ray Sanchez. “Give Canyon a lot of credit, they played tough and it wasn’t easy.”

The match swung back and forth through the first two games, as Canyon’s middle blockers Mackenzie Thurston and Fayo Akao led the Cowboys (8-8-1 overall, 1-2 Foothill League), while Valencia’s Delaney Knudsen continued to impress, leading the Vikings with 18 kills and 11 digs.

Knudsen led the Vikings with 12 digs, Sierra Sanchez had 14 kills, eight digs and two aces, Kellie Kleszcz had seven kills and Kaity Uythoven had 10 digs.

Robyn Underwood led the Cowboys with 25 assists and two blocks. Sarah Greenland had 10 digs, Morgan Fay added nine kills and Mackenzie Thurston had six kills.

“We played hard and we just weren’t able to finish at the end,” said Canyon head coach Brandon Johnson. “Which is something we need to improve on, but overall I’m very pleased with the way my team has played. A match like this is a good gauge.

While Valencia (11-4, 3-0) has reasserted itself as a Foothill League title contender this season, after seeing its run of nine straight championships end last season, Canyon has quietly notched impressive victories throughout the year, including a win over Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks.

“Today, I kind of thought for the first time in a while this is a team we can beat,” Johnson said. “We can compete with every team.”

In the end, though, Thursday belonged to the Vikings, who bounced back to control the third game and put the match away.

It was a reversal of sorts for Valencia, which has struggled at times this season with complacency after building large leads.

Up 2-0 in the match, the Vikings won game three 25-19.

“The third game we played much better and the score wasn’t as close,” Sanchez said. “So that was good. We did have a little bit of a lapse, but better than the first two, and that’s always good to see improvement.”

Now, Valencia turns it’s attention to its upcoming match with Hart, which at 3-0, has made an early statement as another league title contender.

“I think this week we didn’t play our best volleyball,” Sanchez said. “Against a team like Hart, being off a little bit is going to be enough to cost you. We have to be a little bit better. Every aspect needs to be a little bit tighter and we need to execute a little bit better.”


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