Liberty senior Lauryn Burt knows earning a higher seed means more home games in the playoffs. But she’s also plenty fine with where the Patriots currently stand.

Seeded No. 3 in the Central Section Division I volleyball playoffs, Liberty defeated No. 14 Fresno-Bullard 25-11, 25-13, 25-10 in the opening round at home on Thursday.

If Liberty had been seeded No. 1 or No. 2, it would have meant a first round bye and 12 days off between the regular season finale and the quarterfinals coming Tuesday.

“When we found out we were the 3-seed, we were really relieved,” Burt said. “Those two teams (No. 1 Fresno-Central and No. 2 Clovis-Buchanan) have 12 days and we are really happy we don’t have that many days off. We knew that if we did have that many days off, we wouldn’t even know what a match of volleyball really was.”

In other words, momentum is key.

Instead of starting the playoffs on Oct. 31, the Central Section began a week after the regular season ended. That also means those 10 teams that will play for section titles on Saturday, Nov. 11 will play three times next week with the semifinals on Thursday of next week.

“It was nice to have three days without a match,” Liberty coach Amy Parker said. “But next week, if you are winning, it’s practice-play, practice-play, practice-play. But that’s what everyone wants.”

Liberty will host No. 6 Centennial after the Golden Hawks swept No. 11 Clovis 27-25, 25-14, 25-23.

"We weren't ready to overlook Clovis," Centennial coach Penny Roberts said. "I am very happy for our players getting a chance to move on. We played really great defense tonight and I know our girls are ready to play Liberty again. It should be an exciting night."

Liberty swept Centennial in Southwest Yosemite League play, but knows that it’s no easy task taking care of a team three times in a season.

“It’s hard to beat a team three times in a row,” Parker said. “We will be thankful we played well tonight and we will get ready to go on Tuesday.”

Burt and Elise Ferreira led Liberty with 11 kills, as six different Patriots had at least two kills on the evening.

“You want to see how other kids perform,” Parker said. “It’s nice to get them in because you never know when you’ll have to throw them in and they will have to play in crunch time. We haven’t had a match like that in quite a few weeks.”

Ferreira also had 16 assists and seven aces and Burt added 15 assists. Liana Caroccio had a team-high 13 digs and her sister, Jaleesa, added 11 digs.

Kaitlan Tucker had a match-high four blocks and had seven kills.

While Liberty, Centennial and Garces all won at home in the D-I first round, the other three SWYL teams on the road all lost.

No. 10 BHS lost in five sets at No. 7 Clovis East, No. 12 Stockdale lost in straight sets at No. 5 Clovis West, and No. 9 Frontier lost in five sets at No. 8 Clovis North.

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