Hawks get back on track
Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune Liberty outside hitter Olivia Kaczmarek goes up for one of her six kills in a three-set victory over Kerman on Thursday.
KERMAN — The Liberty Hawks girls volleyball team opened its season with 22 straight victories before stumbling against Yosemite-Oakhurst last week.
The Hawks responded with a five-set victory Tuesday over Sierra-Tollhouse and closed the week of North Sequoia League play with a three-set win over Kerman on Thursday.
“Our girls were pretty down and tired after the loss,” head coach Brandon St. Lucia said. “It’s been a long season. So to get these two matches out was good for our morale going forward.”
“We lost and we’re just continuing to go uphill from there,” said Zoey Richey, who had a key service stretch in Thursday’s win. “There’s no going downhill from here.”
The Hawks defeated Sierra 26-28, 26-25, 19-25, 25-20 and 26-24 even though the fifth set is a race to 15 to win by two. Liberty came back Thursday for a tough 25-19, 25-23, 25-17 win over the Lions.
“Sierra is a tough match every year,” St. Lucia said. “We’re excited every time we beat them. We didn’t want to go to 1-2 in league so we knew we had to take care of business Tuesday. The girls are ready to play, no matter who it is. They want to play Sierra and Yosemite again and see where we’ll end up.”
Hannah Chase led the Hawks with 16 kills to go with six aces, nine digs and five blocks. Madison Devine had 26 assists to go with 13 digs and Tayler Sefton had 20 digs.
Liberty took control of the first set after a Devine tip kill. Two kills from Chase and another from Olivia Kaczmarek opened a 13-6 lead. However, Kerman used two aces for a five-point run to cut the Hawks’ lead to three.
Kerman eventually cut the lead to 19-18 before Karsyn Woods recorded a kill. After a Liberty service error, Chase put down a side out kill.
Chase put down her ninth kill of the set and Kaczmarek added another kill for set point. Kerman couldn’t control the ball on its possession and Liberty won 25-19.
In the second set, the Hawks took an early 6-3 lead behind three Chase kills and a Chase ace. However, Kerman used a six and five point run to open a 15-8 lead.
Chase started the comeback with a solo block. Sefton and Devine served an ace to cut Kerman’s lead to 16-13.
Kerman opened the lead back to four, but a Chase kill and ace got the Hawks within one. Kerman added two aces to take a 23-18 lead before a Devine dump kill.
Zoey Richey went back to serve and delivered two aces and the Hawks started to get momentum.
“I tried to have confidence in myself and get the serve in,” Richey said. “I felt like we were able to get ourselves out of the hole and pushed all the way through.”
Devine put down a kill to cut the lead to one. Kerman hit out of bounds to tie the set at 23. Devine had another dump kill to give the Hawks set point. Woods closed out the set with a tip kill and Liberty stole a 25-23 second set victory.
“She set us up to succeed at the end,” St. Lucia said of Richey’s seven straight serves to end the game. “Fortunately, she kept the ball alive and served tough.”
The Hawks took control from the start at the third set. Libero Sefton recorded a back row kill, followed by a Woods solo block and a Chase ace.
Another Sefton kill and a Woods kill led to a 10-5 lead. The Hawks and Lions exchanged eight straight side outs with Liberty getting side out kills from Kaczmarek, Chase (twice) and Richey.
Chase then went behind the serving line and delivered three straight aces for a 17-9 lead.
Kerman made two runs to cut Liberty’s lead to four. However, a Richey kill and ace opened a 21-14 lead.
Kerman used an ace to cut the lead to five, but Chase put down two side out kills for a 23-17 lead.
Kerman hit out of bounds to give Liberty set point and Kaczmarek ended it with her sixth kill of the match for a 25-17 win.
Liberty hosts Chowchilla on Tuesday.