NEWPORT COAST — Coach Dan Thomassen said serving is his Sage Hill School girls' volleyball team's double-edged sword. And, for the first three games of Tuesday's CIF Southern Section Division IV-AA first-round playoff match against visiting Big Bear, the Lightning appeared destined to fall on it.
But, after missing 18 serves in the first three games, including 14 combined in Game 1 and Game 3 losses, Sage rallied for a 20-25, 25-14, 22-25, 25-8, 15-7 triumph to advance to Thursday's second round.
The Lightning (12-12) will face Mount Baldy League champion Ontario at a site to be determined.
The Academy League runner-up seemed determined to impede its own postseason progress Tuesday, peppering serves into the net, beyond the end line and wide of the sidelines to help keep the Bears (12-8) on top.
Eight service errors helped Big Bear claim the opening game and, after Sage missed just four serves in winning the second set, it reverted to bad form, committing six service errors to fall in Game 3.