By RICHARD J. MARCUS
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
If the Rincon Valley Christian girls’ volleyball players were tired and fatigued in Wednesday night’s North Central League II match, they certainly didn’t show it.
The visiting Eagles (20-5, 10-1) — playing their third match in three days in an unusually compact stretch in their schedule — made quick work of the Sonoma Academy Coyotes (13-7, 6-4).
They won three straight games (25-12, 25-17, 25-19) to reinforce RVC’s hold on the league lead. The Coyotes second 3-0 whitewash loss to RVC this season possibly drops Sonoma Academy into a tie for second place or puts them alone in third place.
“Tonight was pretty smooth considering we had to play three days in a row,” RVC coach Jim Andrews said. “I could see they (Eagles players) were a little tired but they stuck to their game and played consistent.”
RVC suffered a tough 3-2 defeat on Tuesday night at Roseland University Prep, giving the Eagles their first league loss. The Eagles bounced back nicely against the Coyotes.
“In my own mind, and I didn’t tell the kids this, I was shooting for an undefeated league season as a first year varsity coach,”
Andrews said. “But this experience is about the players and not me as the coach. It’s as much about life lessons for the players while learning the sport as much as the sport itself.”
RVC’s 6-foot-2½ senior outside hitter Hannah Andrews, a top candidate for league MVP, led the way for the Eagles by dominating at the net and providing a height advantage that the Coyotes couldn’t match.
“In tight games the league MVP (Andrews) took over,” Sonoma Academy coach Danielle Harkey said. “She is a true volleyball player.”
In game 1, the Coyotes were trailing 5-4 before the Eagles went on 13-4 run and eventually won 25-12. The Eagles Kara Robinson clinched the win with a kill between two Sonoma Academy defenders who attempted a block.
“I think we played them (RVC) stronger the first time we met,” Harkey said. “Tonight we overpassed way too much. With the big front row RVC has, they were able to put balls away. The overpassing just killed us.”
The second game was a tight affair for the first half with the game tied 13-13 before RVC won five of the next six points and took a 18-14 lead after a smash for a point by Hannah Andrews. The Coyotes went on to lose the game 25-17 as Sonoma Academy’s Luisa Diaz-Alba made a service error to clinch the game for the Eagles.
“We call them ‘never-evers’ — serves you don’t ever want to miss, such as to end the game,” Harkey said. “Our service aces to errors was 10-7 tonight and it should at least be a ratio of twice as many aces to errors.”
Sonoma Academy, playing on its seniors night, came out in game 3 and seemed to have a second wind, taking a 4-0 lead.
However, RVC, with much more depth, grinded its way back to a 12-12 tie and then scored five consecutive points to take a 17-12 lead. They won that game 25-19 on an unforced error by the Coyotes on match point.
“I would love to throw subs in but we don’t have the bench (3 subs to 6 for RVC) to do it,” Harkey said. “Depth is a factor for us.”
Hannah Andrews finished with 14 kills and 10 digs. Hannah’s younger sister, Kierstin, chipped in 7 kills and 12 digs for the Eagles.
The Coyotes were led by Caroline Praetzel with 9 kills, 8 assists, and 9 digs. Jessica Larsen added 6 kills, 4 aces and 4 digs.