Spring Valley opened the Class 4-4A volleyball season with a surprising 3-0 win over No. 9 Blythewood on Tuesday night.
The upstart Vikings, who finished 16-10 last season, managed a third-place region finish and suffered a first-round playoff exit, gave a clear indication that things could be dramatically different this fall.
“We got a little taste (of success) last year, but we want to gobble it down this season,” said third-year SV coach Deanna Rudnik.
“A lot of the players on this team have been together for a long time, and there is a plan and a positive attitude in place. We have set our goals high, and beating a great team like Blythewood is a great way to start the season. But we also know that one good game doesn’t make a season. We still have a long way to go.”
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The Vikings put a balanced attack on display with junior setter Christina Nazario running the show. Nazario finished with 24 assists and five kills. Outside hitters Amanda Rudnik and Wanda Owoh combined for 16 kills and middle hitter Katlyn McDaniel was dominant at times with seven kills and three blocks.
Spring Valley was solid in the serve/receive game – ringing up 12 aces, while allowing only three service winners – and passed the ball consistently.
Blythewood, on the other hand, was inconsistent in most phases of the game.
“It took the girls entirely too long to wake up, and when they did it was too late,” said Bengals coach Mary Hall.
“We never really got into a rhythm or played our game. We have a good bit of inexperience on the team, so it’s going to be a period of trail and erroruntil we figure out what is working for us.”
Veteran Victoria Harley and sophomores Gabriela Martinez and Meredith Jones had good outings. Harley finished with 10 kills and one block. Martinez, the new primary setter, had 30 assists. Jones, a strong outside hitter, finished with a game high 11 kills.
Spring Valley trailed 15-13 in the first game, but a left side kill by Kynyata Simmons sparked a surge that carried the Vikings to a 25-17 win. Nazario had seven assists, three kills and an ace in the opener.
Rudnik and Owoh had five kills apiece in SV’s 25-17 win in the second game.
The Bengals rebounded from a 9-3 deficit in the third game to make a go of it. Jones had six kills as Blythewood pulled within 24-23, but a defensive mix-up at the net gave Spring Valley its clinching point.
The Vikings, who opened the season with a second-place showing at the preseason Carolina Forest tournament, continue region play on Thursday at Richland Northeast. Spring Valley, in fact, may not have any home matches this season while renovations are under way at school’s gymnasium.
Blythewood, which also played at the Carolina Forest event and swept Keenan and Fairfield Central in a regular season triangular match, hosts Dutch Fork in region play on Thursday.