Esperanza, ranked seventh in Orange County, had little trouble defeating Valencia in three games in an Empire League boys' volleyball match Wednesday at Esperanza High.
Junior Ryan Rex had nine kills and five blocks and Mark Alleman added eight kills for the Aztecs in a 16-14, 15-4, 15-0 victory. Esperanza improved to 7-2, 3-0 in league.
"I thought Valencia would be the team to challenge us in league this season," Esperanza Coach Kurt Kersten said. "It's nice to be ranked as high as we are, but right now our practices are tougher than our matches."
The Aztecs' top player, senior outside hitter Mike Allison, had only six kills. But Esperanza didn't need him Wednesday, although Valencia made the Aztecs sweat a little in Game 1.
Valencia's Joe Reynoza, a 6-foot-5 senior, had a match-high 11 kills and five blocks to help the Tigers (5-5, 1-2) rally from an 8-1 deficit in Game 1.
But after Valencia drew even, 14-14, Alleman spiked through a block for a side out. Then Rex and Alleman scored on consecutive spikes to give Esperanza a 16-14 victory.
Esperanza limited the Tigers to four points for the rest of the match.