Alternating between moments of brilliance and opening day inexperience, the West Valley volleyball team defeated Shasta and Fresno City in the 2021 season openers in Saratoga. Coach Armen Zakarian's squad was dominated by players seeing their first college indoor action and, most of the time, their skill at the net, both offensively and defensively, was on display. Zakarian has some big hitters and blockers and his defense and service game may be the best of his tenure.
The Vikings jumped out quickly in the first set against Shasta, dominating the Knights 25-9. Shasta was ahead for most of the second set before WVC closed out strong for the 25-18 win. The Vikings wrapped up the match with a 25-13 third-set victory.
The stat sheet was paced by Alina Valenti's match-high nine kills. Katie Kishton connected on eight swings and had a team-high eight digs. Taylor Tullo had seven kills, while Sydney Rogers had three aces and a match-high 26 assists. Kate Blackwell came up with seven digs, and Valenti, Keilli Voss and Belen Morgan each had two blocks.
WVC stumbled out of the blocks in the nitecap against Fresno City. Viking service and attack errors opened the door for a rally for the Rams, who took the first set 25-19. The Vikings opened the second with four straight points and evened up the match with a 25-15 win. The two teams traded points in third and fourth sets, with the Vikings holding on for twin 25-23 wins.
The Vikings had 50 kills against the Rams, led by Tullo with 19, Voss with 13 and Kishton with 10. Kishton also had four important service aces. Blackwell was solid again on the back line, recording a team-high six digs to go along with three aces. Rogers had a match-high 44 assists and Morgan accounted for four blocks including two solo roofs.
West Valley and the Rams will tangle again Sept. 10 in the opener of the San Joaquin Delta Classic, the first of eight straight road dates for the Vikings.