PRINCETON — Andy Puck couldn’t hide his displeasure.
Despite his team battling but eventually falling to IVC in a close 25-21, 25-22 non-conference match Thursday in Princeton, the Tigresses volleyball coach couldn’t keep in his frustration with his team’s play.
“There wasn’t one kid on that court tonight that was ready to play, not one kid,” Puck said. “They are a very good team, but they gave us chances to win — a lot of chances to win — but we gave them a lot more chances.
“Those are not my (type of) teams, and I take full responsibility for (our play tonight). We didn’t compete. They played harder than us. We were not disciplined at the net. We were not disciplined behind the service line. The kids didn’t listen to me, and when you don’t listen to your coach, most of the time, you’re not going to win.”
Playing the only Class 3A team on its schedule, Princeton (7-2) hung close with IVC (16-1) throughout both sets. After falling behind in the first set, PHS couldn’t catch back up and then lost a lead late in the second set.
“I think our girls did an excellent job,” said second-year IVC coach Hillary Haen, who was a former setter at the University of Illinois. “This is our 10th match in two weeks, so it’s been a crazy stretch. I was a little nervous because I know Princeton has a really, really solid team, so with it being such a long stretch, I didn’t know if they were going to come out and be ready to fight for this game, and they came out really well.”
Princeton — coming off a six-match winning streak to start the season and a second-place finish in last Saturday’s Rock Falls Invitational — trailed throughout the first set but pulled to 15-14 midway through.
Even though PHS never took the lead, the Tigresses hung close and stayed within three to six points — including 19-15, 21-17, 23-20 and 24-21 — but were unable to take the set.
In the second set, IVC raced to the early lead and took a 12-9 advantage before Princeton fought back.
Down 13-11, PHS went on a 7-4 run to take a 19-17 advantage that forced Haen to call a timeout.
Out of the break, the Lady Grey Ghosts went on a 4-0 surge to take back the lead at 21-19.
A block by Princeton middle hitter Becca Hult pulled PHS to 21-20, an ace by senior setter Michelle Kelly tied the match at 21 and four hits by IVC gave the Tigresses a 22-21 lead.
However, three straight PHS hitting errors and an IVC kill ended the match.
“We just didn’t show up,” Puck said. “They are well coached, don’t get me wrong. They are a good team. They served us off the court. … We did not execute. Blame me, blame me 100 percent for this loss.”
Kelly had 15 assists and four points for PHS, while Hult and fellow middle hitter Alicia Poss both had five kills.
“We weren’t ready from the first whistle, but we still had chances to win, which is why it’s frustrating,” Puck said.
“We’re 7-2 and don’t get me wrong, we’re not a bad team,” Puck added. “But we have to come to play. I take this one personally, I honestly do.”
Note: IVC swept the night as it won the sophomore match 25-12, 25-23 as well as the freshman contest 25-17, 26-24.
Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.