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Left Junior Joslyn Hayes from Santa Monica High School girls varsity volleyball spikes ball over the net as senior Simone Jackson from the Culver City girls varsity volleyball team makes an attempt to block it inside the North Gym located on the campus Santa Moncia HIgh School in Santa Moncia California on Thursday October 20th 2011 as Samo hosted Culver City in an Ocean League match and won in three games by the scores of 25-14, 25-22, and 25-18 (photo by Morgan Genser)

SAMOHI — No head coach, no problem for the Samohi Vikings.

Santa Monica High School’s girls’ volleyball team swept Ocean League rival Culver City in three games (25-14, 25-22, 25-18) at home without longtime head coach Liane Sato, who missed the game due to illness. The win improved Samohi to 4-0 in league. Culver City fell to 4-2. It was the second win over Culver City for Samohi this season.

Assistant Coach Nguyen Trinh was tasked with leading the Samohi Vikings in Sato’s absence.

“I’m just filling in,” he said with a laugh. “I think I give my self a B [grade].”

Whatever it was that Trinh did to motivate the girls must have worked.

The first game began relatively even with Culver City racing out to a fleeting 8-6 lead. The Vikings regrouped, outscoring the Centaurs 18-6 to close out the game on a kill by Sarah Krenik.

The second game was a much closer affair. After racing out to a 5-1 lead, Samohi relented a bit as Culver City surged. The Centaurs would tie the game at 10-10 eventually going up by as many as three. Down, Samohi rallied, rattling off eight straight points to grab a 19-15 advantage. Culver City would tie it at 19, but the Vikings eventually pulled away to win the game.

“We just made too many mental mistakes,” Culver City head coach Christopher Fraijo said. “We made some adjustments in the second game, but they were just too tough.”

The third game wasn’t as close as the Vikings would pull away to win the match in straight games.

Samohi may not have missed a step without their head coach, but at least one Viking felt her absence.

“It was good even though my mom wasn’t there,” said Blossom Sato, the coach’s freshman daughter. “It was a little shaky at first, but we pulled it out.”

The younger Sato entered the game trying not to have any preconceived notions and was surprised that the Vikings walked away with the relatively easy victory.

“I thought they would put up more of a fight,” she said. “But we did a good job of keeping the pressure on them.”

Next for Samohi is a road game against Ocean League foe Beverly Hills. The game is at Beverly Hills on Tuesday. The game begins at 3:15 p.m.

daniela@www.smdp.com

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