The Lions Advance to Round Two in the CIF State Championship Tournament
By Stephanie LaFleur
The Lions started out with 12-5 lead allowed by mostly Eagle Rock errors. Lions’ Senior OH Kelly Rausch would extend the lead to 8 with a kill front row, followed by an ace. Rausch, the Riverside County Girls Athlete of the Week, would tally the final Lion points, first with a front row swing, followed by a hard angle roll shot for the 24-12 advantage. Eagle Rock swung into the net to give Linfield their final point and the set one victory.
The Lions began set two from behind with a few errors, but eventually regained the lead at 5-3 with a block on Eagle Rock’s pipe attack by MB Alaina Tucker, followed by an ace from Lions’ setter Devin Sivertson.
Eagle Rock found some rhythm to tie again at 8-8. Both teams exchanged kills, but Linfield began to pull away at 18-13 with three kills in a row, two from senior OH Makenzie Phelps. From there the Lions started to crumble with four consecutive errors to bring Eagle Rock with one, forcing a Linfield timeout. Unfortunately, the Lions looked no different coming out of the timeout with three more errors, leaving Coach Eric Hawes no choice but to call another timeout.
This time, Phelps responded with a big swing to snap the streak at 19-20. Rausch would tie the game at 21-21 with a kill, but the Lions didn’t regain the lead until MB Paige Williams stepped in with the kill for the 24-23 advantage. However a slew of serve and serve receive errors would give Eagle Rock the set two victory at 25-27.
Linfield’s errors did not escape them in the third set, as they trailed by as many as four points until libero Sam Hohulin tied the game at 7-7 with an ace. It wasn’t until Rausch aced Eagle Rock that the Lions were able to gain control of the set at 11-10 and never looked back; leading by as many as six points later in the set to go on and win 25-20.
The Lions came out firing in set four, tallying 7 kills from five different players in the first 9 points of the games, including three from Tucker, Rausch(1), Williams (1), Hohulin (1), and RS Haley Manning with one also.
Eagle Rock called a timeout to regroup, but Linfield didn’t let up with an assisted block from Williams and Manning, followed by three blocks in a single rally by Williams that eventually scored a point, and a another kill from Manning, sending the Eagles right back into a time-out at 11-3. The Lions pushed the pace even more with three consecutive kills from Phelps to give Linfield the 18-8 lead. Williams would go on to score the Lions’ final two points with kills off a tip and resounding swing to put the match to bed at 25-17.
Williams finished as the Lions’ kill leader with 12, in addition to 7 blocks. Phelps tallied 11 kills, while Tucker finished with10 blocks. Hohulin finished the match with 16 digs while Sivertson put up 37 assists on the night.
Linfield will continue State Tournament play as they face San Dimas (#2 CIF-SS Division 7) on Thursday, November 8th at home. Time TBD.
Photos by Stephanie LaFleur