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Patriots slip past Eagles in 2nd round
The Princeton High volleyball team entered the playoffs as the No. 2 seed but ran into the toughest No. 10 seed imaginable, a veteran Liberty Christian squad and lost in a match decided by two points in Game 5.
Liberty won 25-15, 14-25, 25-22, 17-25, 15-13 on Tuesday in Princeton before beating No. 4 Westwood in the semifinals on Thursday to advance to the Northern Section Division VI championship game against their league rival Mercy today in Red Bluff.
The Patriots (17-13-3) dropped to the No. 10 seed because of a tough Five-Star League schedule that featured three of the four teams in the Northern Section Division VI semifinals.
Lacy Asdourian and Hannah Knowles carried the Patriots' explosive attack with 15 kills each and were two of the best outside hitters Princeton has seen in a while, according to Eagles coach Matt Harvey.
"They're outstanding. They attack the court, they make you make plays and they put heat on you. You know, we made a lot of plays but they're going to get their swings," Harvey said.
There was no underestimating Liberty Christian despite the Eagles' much higher seed.
"Every point was a swing point, and that's the way we want it to be, every point matters. I just appreciate how hard the girls worked. They never put their heads down, they kept battling. Getting behind 25-15 you could easily just mail it in but they didn't," Harvey said.
The deciding fifth game was indicative of how the rest of the match went. The Patriots jumped out to a 4-0 lead with kills by Asdourian and Knowles, before the Eagles came back to tie it 6-6 on a block by senior middle hitter Ashley McMartin.
Princeton junior outside-hitter Maryssa Martin capped off a five-point run with a kill, upping their lead to 10-7, but Knowles made a kill and several Eagles' mistakes tied the game 11-11. Amanda Hanson returned the lead to the Eagles with two kills before the Patriots' Asdourian tied the game with a kill.
The Eagles (21-9) attacked the net but their final two kill shots landed less than a foot beyond the line.
"We didn't give up and, you know, that ball is a foot out, a foot in and it changes the game and that's the way it's going to go. It's a game of inches and we made a lot of plays and they made a few more," Harvey said.
Martin led the Eagles with 14 kills, and McMartin and Gaby Rodriguez each added 11.
The Eagles fell behind early in the first game as Asdourian dominated at the net with seven kills.
Princeton went on a 12-0 run early in Game 2 with junior Julia Romo serving, and McMartin took advantage of strong passing with five kills.
"We have good passers and that's what we did, we passed the heck out for the ball and we got some really good swings. That's all we can really hope for," McMartin said.
When Romo served the Eagles were at their best for most of the match, even though she had just two aces. Romo's consistency getting the ball over the net and having two of the team's best passers - Rodriguez and junior libero Marisela Valencia - in the back row helped Princeton weather the barrage from the Patriots hitters, McMartin said.
"We know they can get the ball in the circle so we can get our hitters up and they did that, they accomplished that for us."
Liberty held a slight advantage over the Eagles for most of the third game but won the fourth game with the help of a six-point run while Hanson was serving in the middle of the game
CONTACT Kirk Barron at 458-2121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.