MENDOTA — The Mendota volleyball team played host to Princeton on Tuesday with one thing on its mind — proving it is the better team.
Mendota usually goes into every match with this mindset, but after the seeding was listed for the Class 3A Sterling Regional, the Spikers took this one more serious than others.
The determined purple and gold defeated the Tigresses 25-15, 25-22, as they battled back and forth in the first game and made a large run for a comeback victory in Game 2.
“I told them ‘Princeton got the three seed, we got the four seed, and we need to prove we should have gotten the three seed,’” Mendota coach John Holzman said.
Princeton started Game 1 with a 2-0 lead but were not ahead long as Mendota tied the game two points later.
The score continued to jump back and forth between the opponents as the Tigresses took leads by capitalizing on Mendota mistakes along with solid passing and big hits from junior middle blockers Alicia Poss and Rebecca Hult.
While Princeton stuck to its game plan, Mendota did as well as the Spikers installed a new defensive strategy at the net.
“We worked on our blocking,” Holzman said. “We tried single blocking. It didn’t work for us. The girls wanted to prove to me that they could double block, so we double blocked (Tuesday). The girls got it in their head that they wanted to play.”
Rachel Barr and Halie Donahue each had two block assists, while Amy Devitt and JoEllyn Parks each had one block assist.
Midway through the first game, Mendota’s size advantage and new blocking scheme became very apparent.
With the the Spikers’ leading 18-12, PHS took a timeout but it did little for the Tigresses as Mendota continued its rally and outscored PHS 7-3 to finish the first set.
“We made a lot of mental errors,” PHS coach Andy Puck said. “I’ll take full responsibility for that, but we just made way too may errors. Way too many errors.
“We have to win the mental game. We’re 5-foot-9 and we’re playing teams that are a lot taller than us and a lot more athletic than us. We still gave ourselves a chance to win, but not enough chances.”
The Tigresses started the second game in command as Poss continued her quick reaction kills, the passing continued to be productive and the margin of error diminished.
PHS jumped out to a 12-5 lead, which forced Holzman into a timeout.
However, after the timeout, the Spikers returned to late Game 1 form — and so did the Tigresses.
Mendota outscored its foe 11-4 to tie the game at 16-16.
During the run, the Spikers scored on assists from senior setter Hollie Reppin and junior Elivia Ambler that led to powerful kills from Barr, Devitt and Parks.
“This late in the season we’re gearing up for the postseason and we just can’t make errors,” Puck said. “(Mendota) is a good team. (They) set back early and have three quality hitters coming at you at all time. We did a good job of slowing them down but we made too many mental errors.”
The teams traded points until a tie was reached at 22-22.
From there, the taller, more physical Mendota front line became the deciding factor as senior outside hitter Alex Tavlas spiked in point No. 23, Barr softly tipped in an Ambler assist over the PHS blockers for No. 24 and Ashlyn Kennedy placed a kill in the top right corner for No. 25 to solidify the statement.
Brandon LaChance can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance.