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COUGARS OUTLAST EAGLES

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By Bucky Brennan

AOLG’s Sirena Cepeda hops to place a tip into Ealge territory. (photo by Andre Gadia)

The Academy Cougars volleyball team survived an early scare and eventually defeated the Harvest Christian Academy Eagles 27-25, 25-17 on Tuesday night at Academy.

Ladera Linn led the Cougars with seven kills, all of which were in the second set, and was all over the back court on defense.

After the game Linn said, “The first set we were kind of shaky, once we focused on teamwork and played with a little energy, we clicked.”

The Eagles and Cougars stayed neck and neck in  the first set. Midway through, with the score at 16-13 in Academy’s favor, Cougars middle blocker Dani Sherwin hit a kill off a quick set from setter Stephanie Bordallo. The kill lifted the fans as the Cougars looked to run away with the set at 17-13. The Eagles were not to be outdone though and on the very next play, Eagles middle blocker Namika Collard one-upped her counterpart with a huge block that got Harvest’s bench on their feet. Collard then stepped to the serving line and served two points including an ace to make the score 17-16.

Ladera Linn

Both teams tried to pull away and close the set, but strong defense and great hitting kept them at each others’ throats. Harvest would eventually take the lead at 23-21 forcing Academy to take a time out. After getting the sideout, Academy’s Raianna Mendiola stepped to the serving line and served two straight aces to make the score 24-23 and give Academy a game point opportunity to close-out the set. However, her next serve caught the net and brought the set to deuce. After Harvest won the first advantage point to go up 25-24, Academy capitalized on three straight errors by the Eagles to win the set 27-25.

As Academy’s offense seemed lacking and the Eagles seemed to swoop on every opportunity in the first set, Academy coaching brought the Cougars in for a huddle to regroup.

Linn said, “We just needed more passion and fire because when we’re energetic and the fire’s there, we execute.”

Led by Linn and a stellar back row defense, the Cougars found their way in the second. After a Harvest error for the first point, the Cougars got to 4-0 off an Eagle error and two aces by Bordallo. Smart play and tough defense guided the Cougars as they eventually went up 10-5, but Harvest again amassed a small comeback and got the score to 10-9. Collard led the Eagles nailing a big kill from the back-row. Linn finally got going and hammered her seven kills which had the Eagles defense scrambling for points. The Cougars found their rhythm midway through the set as Bordallo sent sets to Linn, Sherwin, Mendiola, Gemilie Ilao and Isabel Flores. As the Cougars offense was firing on all cylinders, Academy comfortably closed out the set 25-17.

Linn had seven kills and a dig, Mendiola had three kills, two tips, two digs and two aces.

In the losing effort, Collard had two kills, two aces and three blocks and Maranatha Hennegan had a tip, three kills and an ace.

In other games:

GHS def. GAA 25-10, 25-17

SHS def. GHS 15-25, 25-19, 25-19

JV: SSHS def. St. Thomas 25-23. 18-25, 25-12

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