SPRING VALLEY — On paper and on the scoreboard, things just didn’t look good for the Hall Lady Devils on Senior Night.
The visiting Princeton Tigresses (23-6, 10-1) came in as league leaders in the Three Rivers Conference South and the Lady Devils with just one conference win and four overall. The Tigresses lived up to the mismatch, cruising to a 25-11 opening set win and holding a 24-13 lead in the second.
The Lady Devils dug down to score five straight points before succumbing in the end 25-18.
PHS coach Andy Puck said it was not a necessarily an easy assignment playing Hall on its Senior Night and being the front runner in conference.
“People know where we’re at as far as standings go. They want to take care of us,” said Puck, who previously coached at Hall and whose wife, Gina, works at Hall. “Emotions are high tonight. You never know what you’re going to get from a Hall team. Megan’s done a phenomenal job with these guys. They can go back and rip off, seven, eight, nine points in a row. A nine-point lead’s not safe.”
First-year Hall coach Megan Nation said her squad gained some much needed confidence when it beat Rockridge in conference play last week.
“Rockridge was a huge, huge win for us,” she said. “We play with a purpose now. We come in we’re ready to play. We play confident. They’re a good team and even in years ahead are going to be hard to beat. But I’m proud of my girls. This time we didn’t fall down and give up, like we normally have.”
Princeton opened up the first set with a 10-1 run, benefitting on as many Hall hitting errors as their own hits, to take a 20-6 lead. The Tigresses led as much as 15 (22-7) before settling for the 25-11 final.
Hall gained an 8-6 lead in the second set. Then Princeton reasserted itself, scoring five straight to go up 14-8 and using a 9-3 run to make it 24-13, playing its starting rotation throughout.
Shelbi Justi ripped off four straight points after a Hall sideout to close within 24-18 before hitting her fifth serve into the net.
In the end, Nation said Hall had too many hitting errors to stay in the game.
“I was proud of my kids, because they we were making aggressive mistakes. We were playing to still win. We weren’t playing to not lose. That’s what the games all about, especially this time of year,” Puck said. “I went with my lineup throughout to try to create some chemistry, some confidence, some trust. Hopefully, that pays dividends as we go into the postseason.”
Alicia Poss led PHS with seven kills and Ashley Farraher and Becca Hult had six each. Rachel Frank served for 12 points with setter Michelle Kelly adding 21 assists, five digs and four points.
For Hall, Vanessa Olivares had three kills and Justi, Clarissa Gerrard, Ellie Herrmann and Emily Hoscheid had two each.
• Notes: Five Hall seniors and their parents were honored Thursday — Brenna Faletti, Clarissa Gerrard, Kaylee Golden, Kayla Musgrave and Vanessa Olivares. …. Both programs have alumni on their coaching staff. Erin Polte (Hall class of 2009) is the freshmen coach for Hall while Emily (Ellberg) Cook (PHS class of 2003) is the freshmen coach for PHS). …. Princeton pulled out both underclass matches in three sets, winning 19-25, 25-15, 15-12 at the sophomore level and 11-25, 25-19, 15-10 in the freshmen tilt. ... Hall will also host a 2A regional starting Oct. 28. PHS is the No. 2 seed at the Streator Regional in 3A.
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