It wasn't a dominant performance, at least not at the start. It was actually more like a slow build.
But when the Liberty volleyball team got things going Tuesday night against Exeter in the Central Section Division I quarterfinals, it was impressive to watch.
Carisa Barron had a team-high 13 kills to lead the No. 2 Patriots to a 25-23, 25-22, 25-16 victory over the scrappy 7th-seeded Monarchs, who had won the last two section D-II titles.
"Carisa had a great night," Liberty coach Amy Parker said. "I need that going forward, and from a few others, too. Everything gets harder from this point on."
The Patriots (25-5) advance to play host to No. 3 Arroyo Grande in Thursday night’s semifinals.
"We'll take a deep breath, we'll enjoy tonight and (Wednesday) we'll be in the gym to prepare for Arroyo Grande," Parker said.
Barron heated up early, finishing with six kills in the opening set as the No. 2 Patriots held off the Monarchs in a see-saw battle. The match was tied 11 times, including 23-23, but Liberty closed out the set out with consecutive kills by Barron and Grace Witcher.
"We knew they were the type of team that would run through a brick wall to get the ball up," Parker said. "So we knew they were going to play super hard and they proved that in Game 1, so for us to get that two-point win in Game 1 was huge for us."
Liberty started to pull away in the second set and led 20-13 on a block by Reese Renz and Bree Rodriguez, but Exeter (26-15) responded with five straight points. Jaleesa Caroccio had three aces in the set.
Following a Patriots timeout, Barron slammed a kill and Rodriguez followed with another to spark Liberty to a 2-0 lead in sets.
The Patriots closed things out with a dominant third set, with Rodriguez finishing things off with a kill.
"We try to limit those runs of points, so in Game 3 our focus was on what we call first-ball, side out," Parker said. "When they score the ball we want to hideout as quickly as possible. We did a much better job of that in Game 3 then we did in Game 2."
Brynna Slayton had seven kills and two aces, Renz and Witcher added six apiece, and Rodriguez finished with four and three blocks.
"I think in the beginning of the season we were going to just a couple of hitters a lot, and we've worked on (changing that)," Parker said. "We spread the ball around a lot more now than we did a month and a half ago. Our passing keeps us in system and enables to set anyone we want. Everything starts with the pass."