The Saddleback Valley Christian girls volleyball team won two of the first three sets Saturday morning in the CIF-SS Division 4AA final against Hemet, but the Warriors were never able to close out the match at Cypress College.
Hemet, the second seed, rallied to win sets four and five to take the match 25-20, 15-25, 23-25, 25-22, 15-10 and claimed a third consecutive CIF title.
The top-seeded Warriors finishes the season at 28-5, a berth in the CIF Southern California Regionals is likely next. The pairings will be released Sunday.
“I like the way that our girls battled,” SVC coach Jon Greene said. “I think the third time in a row of Hemet being here (in the finals), they were able to steady out and we were getting excited and the moment got a little passed us.
“I like the way we competed. Hemet is a great team. I thought they turned up their level of play starting in game four and got a lot more active on defense.”
After the first set, the Warriors stormed back in the second with an impressive 25-15 victory. SVC scored the first 10 points in the set, cruising to victory.
In the third, SVC fought off a late charge by Hemet. The Warriors had a 23-17 lead, but the Bulldogs fought their way back to get to 24-23, forcing a timeout. Out of the break, Chelsea Duhs ended the set with a kill for a 2-1 lead.
From there, Hemet took over.
“Our passing really improved and the girls actually started putting balls away, instead of putting free balls over the net,” Hemet coach Janie Washburn said. “We told them they had to go up and hit and we started serving a lot tougher and that kept them (SVC) from getting the kills they were getting before.”
Heidi Dyer led SVC with 16 kills. Duhs added 12.
Duhs and Mackenzie Burns are the only seniors on the roster. SVC has two freshmen, one junior and six sophomores. Greene credited his seniors for helping getting the team to work together this season.
“They’re phenomenal,” Greene said of Duhs and Burns. “They’re great leaders and great people. I can’t say the job they did with the underclassmen, getting them to be a team and to buy into the team concept and to play for one another.”
“We wanted to come to, from start to finish, play for each other and I knew that if they did that, we would compete.”
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