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VISALIA - After coming up short in the semifinals during the past two years, the Kingsburg volleyball team finally had its chance of a championship moment on Saturday.

A kill from Cambria Brandon cemented the program’s first Valley championship and a sweep over the Sierra Pacific Golden Bears in the CIF Central Section Division IV title match at the College of the Sequoias.

“It feels good and it’s even sweeter that we’re the first ever for Kingsburg High School,” middle blocker Olivia Doyle said. “We’re just so happy.”

Kingsburg, the division’s No. 2 seed, defeated the top-seeded Golden Bears 25-17, 25-8, 25-17 in the first championship match of the day. In the previous two seasons, the Vikings fell short of making a championship appearance after losing the semifinals as the home team.

“We’ve been working for this for four years,” outside hitter Jennah Torres said. “The fact that we made it our senior year is amazing.”

For coach Brittany Henderson, it’s her first championship as a head coach after her Clovis North team finished as the Division I runner-up in 2014. The girls embracing their roles along with their work ethic were pivotal for the team’s Valley title run, Henderson said.

“As a coach, it’s like watching my kid out there.” Henderson said.“I’m just excited for them and for Kingsburg, the community. It’s the first ever for girls volleyball and we get a banner in the gym.”

The Vikings have swept every opponent they’ve faced in the Division IV playoffs and they allowed 20-points in a set only once all postseason.

In a previous non-league meeting this season, Sierra Pacific defeated Kingsburg in five sets (25-21, 26-24, 26-28, 23-25, 15-9) on Aug. 27.

After taking the first set of the championship match, the Vikings put together an impressive second set that ended with Kingsburg holding the Golden Bears to single digits. The Vikings started the set with a 6-0 run, which catapulted them into holding onto the lead for the entirety of the set. Kingsburg led throughout the entirety of the first set.

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The Golden Bears would get within five points at 10-5, but the Vikings dominated the floor with a 10-0 run that stretched their lead to 20-5. After three points from the Golden Bears, the Vikings finished the set by scoring four consecutive times including a kill from Torres for the match point.

“That was totally the best we’ve played all season,” Doyle said. “We came out and we all wanted it so bad and you could really see it in that second set.”

Kingsburg’s 25-8 set win was the second straight time that the Vikings held an opponent to single digits in a set during a match. In their semifinal sweep over Mira Monte, the Vikings held the Lions to eight points in the second set.

“We all just wanted it,” Torres said about the second set against Sierra Pacific. “We came out and it showed on the court.”

Kingsburg fell behind early in the third set when Sierra Pacific scored the first point and the Golden Bears gradually held onto the lead. The set featured six ties and after the score was 12-12, the final time the set was tied, the Vikings gained their first lead of the set by going on a 10-2 run, which built a comfortable 22-14 lead for Kingsburg.

After the Golden Bears made the score 24-17, a dig from setter Khole Hodges put Brandon in position for the match-winning kill.

“I feel like a Valley champ,” middle blocker Ally Cotton said. “All the hard work was worth it and it feels awesome.”

Up next for the Vikings are the CIF State playoffs. The Vikings earned a No. 9 seed in the NorCal Division IV state playoffs and traveled to play No. 8 seed Gunn High School in Palo Alto on Tuesday. No results were available at press time. 

“We’re ready,” Henderson said.

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The reporter can be reached at 559-583-2413 or jmartinez@hanfordsentinel.com

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