In what has been a season-long battle between two premier volleyball teams in Kern County, Tuesday night’s match between Liberty and Centennial ended the way it was supposed to.
In five sets, with Liberty coming out on top once again.
In what has been a nip-and-tuck series throughout 2017, the Patriots found a way to win. It was the fourth time the two teams squared off this season. And while Centennial won a preseason match at the Clovis Volleyball Invitational in September, Liberty was victorious in two closely contested league matches.
Tuesday’s contest was the quarterfinals of the Central Section Division I playoffs, with the Patriots as the No. 3 seed and the Golden Hawks seeded No. 6. Liberty was victorious 25-22, 21-25, 28-30, 25-23, 15-11. The Patriots will now move on to the semifinals at No. 2 Clovis-Buchanan at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.
“Both sides have film each other. They can see tendencies,” said Liberty junior Elise Ferreira. “As much as we were preparing to play them again, they were preparing to play us. For the third time, they came with strategy — just like we did. It’s always a battle.”
Said Patriots coach Amy Parker: “We knew it was going to be a super-tight match, we knew that it was going to be a battle the whole night. And, I mean, it was.”
Back-and-forth play ensued between two foes that were clearly no strangers to one another. A highly competitive match unfolded, with players on both teams competing extremely hard on every hard-earned point.
Centennial was clearly no pushover, narrowly falling in a first set that saw six ties and five lead changes.
That quickly became a theme, with the Golden Hawks falling behind 8-3 in Set 2 before surging back to take the frame and tie things up 1-1.
After a Set 3 that saw Centennial finally put the Patriots away (the Golden Hawks had Liberty at set point four times before finally delivering the knockout blow) Liberty returned the favor with a comeback win of its own in Set 4.
The deciding stanza went Liberty’s way fairly handily, although the Golden Hawks did attempt one final push.
Ferreira had 25 assists and 16 kills for Liberty. Lanie Camarillo had 18 kills, while Paige Camarillo and Lauryn Burt each had 10.
Lauren Eknoian had 29 digs for Centennial. Mikaela Maughan dished out 29 assists. Alexus McLeod, who will sign with Cal State Northridge on Wednesday, and Eknoian each had 19 kills of their own.