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Sage Hill ends streak

Girls' Volleyball

Lightning win key league match in four, grabbing their first victory at St. Margaret's in six years.

October 18, 2011|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza
(Kevin Chang / Daily…)

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — Outside of the gym, Coach Dan Thomassen gathered his Sage Hill School girls' volleyball team. A huge banner at St. Margaret's hung in front of the Sage girls with the words: "SENIORS, THE CLASS THAT ENDS IT ALL."

For three Sage Hill seniors, Tuesday night marked the end of a long losing streak at St. Margaret's.

Thomassen said Zoe Kreitenberg, Natasha Sakraney and Alayna Lewis dreamed of winning at St. Margaret's. The trio pulled it off in their final year with the Lightning.

Sage Hill, ranked No. 4 in the CIF Southern Section Division IV-AA poll, upset the top-ranked Tartans, 25-16, 19-25, 25-20, 25-17. The victory moves the Lightning into a first-place tie at 5-1 with defending league champion St. Margaret's.

Four league matches remain before the league title is decided.

"This one was even bigger than a league title for us," Thomassen said. "Our seniors had never won here. We hadn't beaten them since their freshmen year at our place. It's a rivalry, but … they've had the better of us the last few years. Plus, they're CIF defending champions."

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The Lightning ruined the Tartans' homecoming. A big crowd showed up to watch St. Margaret's start the second part of league against Sage Hill.

Sage Hill bounced back after dropping the league opener at home to the Tartans in four sets last month. The two rivals went four again and each set was tight.

The difference in who won this time around was easy when you asked St. Margaret's Coach Susie Maga.

"They played without fear," Maga said of the Lightning.

The veterans weren't the only players making plays for Sage Hill in crucial moments. Freshmen Halland McKenna and Maddy Abbott rose to the occasion with sets on the line.

McKenna, an outside hitter, led the Lightning with 17 kills and she added eight digs and six service aces. Abbott, a setter, finished with 35 assists to go along with seven aces.

The biggest aces by Abbott clinched the third set for Sage Hill. With McKenna tying the set at 20-20 with a kill, it was Abbott's turn to serve. She never stopped, dropping three aces as the Lightning scored the set's final six points.

"That was a huge springboard for us," Thomassen said.

The momentum stayed on Sage Hill's side in the fourth set.

Maggie Danner started things with an ace, and then Kreitenberg and Sakraney went to work.

Kreitenberg, a middle blocker, hammered two of her 11 kills, and Sakraney pounded a cross-court kill. Sakraney, an outside hitter, finished with eight kills.

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