By Ernest Stone
After closing out the third game, there was no reason to believe that the Lick-Wilmerding girls volleyball couldn’t complete the comeback after falling down 2-0 to rival University in the Bay Counties League West playoffs.
But it was an untimely injury, combined with a refocused Red Devils squad, that squandered the late rally, as University closed out the fourth game to win 25-22, 32-30, 23-25, 25-15 on Friday at Convent of the Sacred Heart High School.
“I think we are just a little more diverse on offense,” said University head coach Ki Choi. “Our kids play well together and I think that has been what has separated the two teams so far this season.”
Early on, it seemed that there was little if any separation between the two teams, as the first two games were won by five points combined and took over an hour to play.
Then, after losing the second game 32-30 and failing to convert three game points in the process, the Tigers rallied to win the third game.
“We are a team that relies heavily on our passing to win us games,” said Lick head coach Erwin Chu. “When we didn’t pass well we struggled. Then in third game we passed much better. It’s as simple as that.”
Unfortunately, the Tigers’ rally was short-lived. In the late stages of the third game Lick starting setter Stacey Cheong was injured and forced to miss the rest of the match, leaving the Tigers at a significant disadvantage heading into the fourth game.
“Heading into the fourth game, there was a little sense of worry,” said University junior outside hitter Katherine Evers, who finished with 15 kills and 13 digs. “We are a motivated team though, and as unfortunate as it was, the injury gave us a slight breather to refocus.”
Evers’ squad did just that, compiling the team’s most convincing game of the match en route to clinching the match and moving into the final of the BCL West playoffs against Marin Academy today.
While Lick struggled in league play this season, Friday night’s contest, along with several close losses, proved that the Tigers were not outmatched in talent.
As for University (20-7), the successful season it has compiled is not over yet.
“Our team has shown that we can handle any situation,” Choi said. “My players, whether it be our captains or our role players, have shown that this a complete team that can go to many places for big plays.”