PRINCETON - Between the first and second game Tuesday night, Princeton coach Andy Puck sat on the bench as his players huddled on the court.

Puck didn't have much to say to the Tigresses after another slow start caused them to drop the opener to Rock Falls.

"They're kids. Sometimes I might as well talk to that wall," Puck said. "They've heard everything I've had to say many times. It's just about absorbing it and trying to execute it."

With Puck on the bench, senior outside hitter Sarah Maynard took over the huddle, getting the team pumped up before the second game.

"Basically, Sarah Maynard took it over and she said we need to pick it up because we were all kind of playing content and we aren't content with losing," senior Lacey Jensen said. "It was really motivational. We really picked it up after that."

They certainly did.

Princeton easily won the next two games to pull out a 20-25, 25-17, 25-12 victory over the Lady Rockets in NCIC Lincoln Division play.

"I'm very happy, very happy," Puck said about how his team responded. "I'm not happy with the way we came out. We've been sluggish like that. I don't know why. I've tried to do everything, but you know what, we're pushing back. Then when Rock Falls pushed, we're still pushing back. We're about where we should be this time of the season, hopefully."

The Lady Rockets jumped out to an early 5-1 lead in the first game and never looked back.

Princeton struggled to put the ball down against a Rock Falls team that got their hands on a lot of kill attempts and dug up a lot of shots.

About midway through the second game, the Tigresses began hitting around the Lady Rockets' block and finding holes in the relentless Rock Falls defense.

"We got around their blocks more. I think their confidence went down and they were starting to doubt themselves," Jensen said. "That just fed us with our enthusiasm and we just picked it up from there."

The Tigresses tied the second game at 12-12 on a Maynard kill, then took the lead for good at 13-12 when Jolyn Kane served one of her five aces.

Princeton closed out the second game on a Jensen kill, an Allie Youngren block and a Rock Falls error.

The Tigresses continued to roll in the third game. After the teams traded points early, Princeton took a lead it wouldn't relinquish at 7-6 on a Rock Falls error.

Princeton took advantage of a Rock Falls rotation in which the Lady Rockets only put up one block on the outside because their setter is too short to block.

"It was weird playing against only one blocker," said Jensen, who finished with seven kills and four blocks. "We're used to having two at least. When the outside only had one block or the right side had only one block, it seemed so much easier than normal."

Jolyn Kane had a dominating stretch on the outside in the final game. The junior had three kills in a four-volley stretch to help the Tigresses take an 18-9 lead.

Later she served a pair of aces during a three-point service run for a 22-10 advantage.

"Puck told me to hit more cross because they were handling line really well," said Kane, who had 10 kills, 10 points and 15 digs. "I usually hit down line, but he told me to hit cross and that worked."

The Tigresses (20-3-1, 3-2 NCIC Lincoln) head to Mendota on Thursday for a Lincoln showdown.

Kevin Chlum can be reached at 223-3200, ext. 138, or at sports@newstrib.com.

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