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Kelly, Tigresses close out Lady Devils

PRINCETON — Once Michelle Kelly and the Princeton Tigresses established themselves to the Hall Lady Devils Tuesday at Prouty Gymnasium, it was pretty much over.

Kelly served out the final 12 points in a first-set, 25-9 victory. The Lady Devils held close in the second early, but a six-point string by Kelly turned the tables once again for a 25-14 PHS win.

“It’s a serve-receive battle; that’s all it is. We’re better at the net, but it doesn’t do a whole lot of good if you can’t pass the ball. We were able to hit balls consistently. Michelle did a good and job, and we were able to terminate ball. I was proud with our performance,” PHS coach Andy Puck said.

“In matches like these, you just got to keep balls in play and keep a lot of energy. You don’t want them stealing any energy. (You want to) keep balls in play and give your team chances.”

With the win, Princeton moved to 5-0 atop the Three Rivers South Division, 15-3 overall.

An ace by Shelbi Justi pulled Hall within 11-8 in the first set. It was 12-9 Princeton when Kelly took the service line in the first game. She quickly finished off the set using kills by Alicia Poss and Becca Hult, a stuff block by Hult and five hitting errors by Hall to polish off the 25-9 final.

In the second set, Hult turned the ball over to Kelly with a Hult kill for the sideout at 12-7. Kelly scored on a couple Hall errors, and a stuff by Hult made it 18-7. After a Hall timeout, Ashley Farraher hit through a Hall block to make it 18-8; Kelly finishing with 18 points on the night along with 17 assists.

Senior libero Mollie Bates finished off the night with an ace serve at 25-14.

Hult and Farraher each knocked down six kills for PHS; Hult adding a pair of blocks. Sophomore Hailey Schultz added four kills, and Poss had three. Bates cleaned up the back row with eight digs to go with six points and two aces.

“It was a good team win,” Puck said. “We were able to get everybody involved. I trust everybody on that bench to contribute and come in. Tonight was evidence of that.”

Hall coach Megan Nation said it’s been a struggle for the Lady Devils (2-18, 0-5) on the court, but more so with their mental approach.

“We’re struggling this year. We struggle with our confidence; we struggle just keeping our head in the game. (When) we get down, we play down,” she said.

“Our defense and serve-receive has gotten a lot better. We’ve just got to put it on our hitters, and our hitters got to do the rest for us. I think we’ll get there; it’s going to take a while. They continue to work hard. We’ve had a lot of conversations about keeping our heads up and not letting so many things outside of volleyball bother us because it really does mess with our mentality.”

Hall sophomore Brooke Keegan led the Lady Devils with two aces and seven digs and had two kills along with senior Clarissa Gerrard. Brenna Faletti chipped in five digs, and Vanessa Olivares had five assists.

Notes: Princeton was a 25-8, 26-24 in the sophomore match. Hall rallied to take the freshmen match 19-25, 25-14, 15-12 ... Hall returns to action Thursday at St. Bede. Both teams will travel to the Lady Comet Classic at Braidwood Reed-Custer Saturday. The Tigresses will draw defending 2A champ Deer Creek-Mackinaw. “We go to tournaments like this to play teams like this,” Puck said.

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