With a young lineup, it took the Princeton volleyball team a while to get into gear Tuesday.
But the Tigresses eventually did en route to a 26-24, 25-17 victory over Hall in a Three Rivers Conference East Division match in Spring Valley.
“We started out slow, but we are young, and when you come into this gym, that can happen,” PHS coach Andy Puck said. “We made some unforced errors and the energy was low. Sometimes we take a little while to get going, but once we got going the confidence rose and the energy rose and we felt a lot better about ourselves.”
Despite the loss, Hall coach Demi Salazar was pleased with his team’s performance.
“It’s early in the season, but I’m happy with what we did,” Salazar said. “We had a lapse in the start of the second game and it’s probably the only lapse we had. If you look at it, they went up by nine and we lost by eight, so after that (lapse), everything was pretty even again. I liked what I saw.”
The first set began with the teams trading sideouts before Hall’s Maddie Hannon stepped to the service line with the score 3-2 in favor of the visitors and promptly ran off six straight points — highlighted by a thunderous spike by senior hitter Meghan Bernadoni — to give the Lady Red Devils an 8-3 lead.
After a sideout, Bernadoni once again buried a spike and followed it up with a pair of points from the service line to widen the gap to 11-5.
But Princeton’s Kenzie Coleman started to heat up from the outside and hammered a pair of kills before Abby Peterson added a pair of aces to cut the Tigresses’ deficit to 13-10.
Princeton inched even closer as Coleman put down a kill and Gracie Ross supplied a stuff block to knot the game at 14-14.
But Hall got a big kill from Lily Orlandi and Gia Pozzi added an ace to put the hosts back in front 17-14.
McKenzie Hecht put down back-to-back kills to pull the Tigresses within one at 17-16, but Orlandi had another kill to stop the run.
However, the Tigresses kept coming as Katie Bates floated the ball over the net to a vacated place on the court to again tie the game at 19-19.
The Tigresses finally wrestled the lead away on a Bates spike, an ace from Olivia Chastain and a laser kill by Hecht to put Princeton up 22-19.
The Lady Red Devils were not done though as they rode a Pozzi dink shot and a rocket spike from Bernadoni to level the match at 24-24.
The Tigresses were able to seal the deal on a big spike from Coleman and a block from Madison Richards to walk off with a hard earned 26-24 victory.
The second game saw the Tigresses pounce early when Coleman and Richards put up back-to-back blocks to help PHS to a 5-3 advantage.
Coleman got hot from the service line and cashed in for three aces and seven points — highlighted by a block from Richards and a kill from Hecht — to extended Princeton’s lead to 12-4.
The Tigresses built its advantage to 16-5 on the power of a Richards ace and a Hecht kill.
After a sideout, Hecht put down another kill and Coleman hammer another from the left side.
Hall got a big kill from Bernadoni to slow Princeton’s run and bring the score to 19-8. Mia Mautino served four consecutive points to help the Lady Red Devils pull closer, but Richards hammered home a kill to seal Princeton’s win.
Bates led the Tigresses (5-3, 3-0 TRC East) as she had 20 assists, seven points, six digs and an ace, while Coleman put down 12 kills to go along with eight points, seven digs and three aces.
“Katie Bates won this match for us,” Puck said. “Her decision making is unbelievable, and to think that she is only 15 years old is scary. She puts every one of our hitters in position to succeed, and with our outside hitter, Kenzie Coleman, those two are the engine that get it done.”
Don Baldin can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.