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Wild Card to Champions: West Ranch High School Boys Volleyball Shocks Valencia to Win First CIF Division 4 Title in School's History

West Ranch High School boys volleyball upset Foothill League champion Valencia to win their first-ever CIF Southern Section Division 4 title under coach Brandon Johnson 


The West Ranch boys volleyball team won the CIF Southern Section Division 4 championship in impressive fashion. It was the first CIF boys volleyball championship in West Ranch school history. It was the first time West Ranch beat Valencia this year, and it was the first CIF championship for coach Bradon Johnson.


Valencia came into the match as the Foothill League champion. The Vikings beat West Ranch twice during the league season. Valencia entered the playoffs as one of the favorites to win the Division 4 title.


West Ranch had a much more difficult path. The Wildcats were a wild-card team and finished in third place in the Foothill League standings. They were the clear underdogs entering the championship match.


But West Ranch outside hitter Noah Duphner said after the match it’s hard to beat a team three times in the same season. He was right. West Ranch proved to be a tough opponent, even if each game in the championship match was decided by two points. The closest and longest game was the second one. West Ranch won Game 2, 30-28, and took control of the match from there.


Noah Duphner talked to journalist Tim Haddock (co-host of Santa Clarita Weekly) about winning the Southern Section Division 4 championship and beating Valencia for the title.


“You know, honestly, it was just all around amazing,” Duphner said. “You know West Ranch and Valencia are big-time rivals in most sports, but it was amazing to see how many people came out for this rivalry from our valley and around our valley. And it was, like, a super-packed gym; it was super fun. I’m really proud of how my team played. I think we did amazing. I think it was a long and up-and-coming win. We worked really hard in practice. We prepared really hard in the first week leading up to it. They beat us twice in the regular season, but it’s tough to beat a team three times in a row. We took advantage of that.”


Tim Haddock asked Noah Duphner about West Ranch’s path through the playoffs going through a “wild card match”, and what it was like being a “wild card team.”


“I like to think of a wild card match as a warm-up match,” Duphner replied. "Most of our players are really new to varsity, and last year our players didn’t even play in the play-off match because we didn’t make it. So I was the only one on my team that had played in a play-off match before… The wild card match is almost used as a warm-up match to get the feel of the play-off match, and sort of feel out how things are going to go. And when we realized things are going well, we just kept going and it took us great places.”


Senior middle blocker Lucas Reuter talked to Tim Haddock about leaving a legacy at West Ranch by winning the first CIF Southern Section championship in school history for the program.


“It was amazing,” Reuter said about West Ranch winning the championship for the first time in the school’s history. “It’s a legacy for my school, and I get to go out for my senior year and just win it all pretty much.”


In a storybook ending, the West Ranch boys volleyball team overcame a challenging season to claim the program's first-ever CIF Southern Section championship. Despite entering the playoffs as a wild card team and falling twice to league rivals Valencia during the regular season, West Ranch delivered a thrilling performance in the final, defeating Valencia in three close sets. With their historic win under their belts, the Wildcats set their sights on further CIF glory in the Southern California Regional Division 3 playoffs.


West Ranch beat Sage Hill in the first round of the CIF Southern California Regional Division 3 playoffs. Sage Hill won the Southern Section Division 5 championship.


West Ranch plays Mission Vista from Oceanside in the semifinals of the Southern California Regionals. 


Listen to the interviews and watch footage of the match on Santa Clarita Weekly, Episode 12.

Santa Clarita Weekly

Listen to Santa Clarita Weekly with Tim Haddock and Sage Rafferty right here on SantaClaritaStar.com, on YouTube, and wherever you listen to Podcasts. The show is also on the radio on KQRU 107.9 every week on Saturdays at 9:00 AM.