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Lightning sweep

April 16, 2005

Rick Devereux

Starting the season winless in the first nine matches was not sitting

well with the Sage Hill School boys volleyball team.

"It didn't matter what strategy I used, we stopped playing hard in

matches," Coach Merja Connolly-Freund said.

Connolly-Freund switched lineups around, started different players

in different positions, switched from one setter to two setters. It

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didn't matter.

But the Lightning players had a moment of reflection brought from

within the team.

"We had a team talk [Thursday]," captain Jake Lazere said. "We

weren't into games. We have a lot of potential, but I don't think the

team understood how to play an intense match."

The team meeting led to a high-energy practice, which in turn led

to a focused effort on the court in Sage Hill's 32-30,25-15, 25-19

win over visiting St. Margaret's Friday in an Academy League match.

"A win does so much for your confidence," Connolly-Freund said.

"We were nervous in the first game because we started to invest

energy into the match."

The butterflies created deficits of 4-1 and 13-6 for Sage Hill,

but the Lightning battled back.

Sage Hill went on a 5-0 run to cut the hole to 20-18 and

eventually tied the game at 22-22. Lazere created game-point when his

kill gave the Lightning a 24-23 advantage, but an illegal contact

evened the game. There were eight ties in the game after 22-22 and

four lead changes. A service error by the Tartans, coupled with a

service ace by Jamie McGee and a kill by Steven Hancock gave Sage

Will the victory.

"You could see we had the momentum after that game,"

Connolly-Freund said. "It was very important for us to win that first

game in overtime. It really carried over the to rest of the match."

The Lightning used that momentum to gain a 15-3 lead and Sage knew

how to close out the game despite not being in that situation all

year.

The Tartans had renewed focus in the third game, staking an early

6-3 lead. Lazere hammered home a kill for Sage and Phil Kaye had a

service ace to tie the game at 11-11.

After St. Margaret's took a 15-12 lead, freshman setter Carl

Hillgren dumped a ball for a Lightning point and Will Rogan

registered a kill for the Lightning.

The Tartans had two kills, but four unforced errors gave the Sage

Hill an 18-17 lead. The Lightning grabbed a 21-18 lead on a service

ace by Rogan, kill by Lazere and an illegal contact by a St.

Margaret's player.

The Lightning scored the final four points of the match thanks to

three St. Margaret errors and a McGee kill.

The Tartans finished with 40 errors while Sage Hill registered 30.

"It wasn't a beautiful match," Connolly-Freund said. "A lot of

mistakes were made by both teams."

Lazere finished with a match-high 13 kills and middle blocker Mike

Morgan had seven for Sage Hill (1-9, 1-4 in league).

Jeff Kerchner had 12 kills for St. Margaret's (1-9, 0-4).

Hillgren registered a match-high 25 assists for the Lightning, who

play host to Capo Valley Christian Tuesday at 5 p.m.

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