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Girls' Volleyball: Sage Hill survives five-game thriller

Lightning stamp ticket to CIF Southern Section Division III-A semifinals with dramatic win over La Sierra on the road.

November 10, 2012|By Andrew Shortall

RIVERSIDE — It was a position the Sage Hill girls' volleyball team didn't want to be in Saturday night in the CIF Southern Section Division 3-A quarterfinals.

After holding a two-game advantage the Lightning found themselves going into a fifth game in a hostile environment at La Sierra High. Without any momentum, the visitors found a way to bounce back for the roller-coaster victory, 25-13, 25-15, 15-25, 14-25, 15-10.

"Seriously, there's no words to describe this match," said Sage Hill outside hitter Halland Mckenna, who finished with a team-high 21 digs, 10 kills and six aces. "We thought we had it in the first two games and in the next two games it was like we were playing a completely different team. Then it hit us, if we don't get this right this could be the last game of the season."

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The third-seeded Lightning looked to be on the verge of a sweep after winning the first two games convincingly, but the Eagles had other plans – taking the third and fourth games in just as impressive fashion to force a fifth and deciding game.

Sage Hill had a host of things to overcome in the match, as it arrived at La Sierra (23-5) just 15 minutes before the scheduled start time after it hit traffic and originally showed up to the wrong school.

"It's playoff volleyball, you know, the big momentum swings," Sage Hill Coach Dan Thomassen said. "We had an ordeal just getting here with traffic and we went to the wrong school. The girls were so composed, though. I am not surprised, this group can deal with anything."

Thomassen said the victory puts Sage Hill in a semifinal road match with No. 2 Ontario Christian Tuesday.

It looked like the season was about to be over for the Lightning (25-6) in the middle of the final frame Saturday. They found themselves down, 7-3, after committing four errors early on. Thomassen called a timeout to regroup his team, and got the response he was looking for, as Kekai Whitford and Maggie Danner scored the next two points for Sage Hill on a kill and ace, respectively, to cut the deficit to two.

The wave of momentum seemed to be short lived on another unforced error from the Lightning, but they rebounded behind a kill from Mckenna and two big blocks from Whitford (19 digs, seven kills, two blocks, two aces) to tie the game at 8 and force a La Sierra timeout.

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