By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The action was fast, furious and competitive Thursday night at the Princeton Senior High School gymnasium as the homestanding Tigers defeated the Liberty Raiders in five games, 21-25, 25-20, 25-14, 23-25, 15-10 in volleyball play.
“I’m glad we pulled it out,” said Princeton coach Leslie Whitt. “Overall I think we played well tonight. Liberty is a good team and beating them here, at home, is a good win for us. I’m proud of our team and I think we did a good job.”
Game one, after a 3-3 tie, with Taylor Hamm serving the Tigers ran out to a 9-3 advantage only to see Liberty charge back and knot the score at 10. Liberty took a 14-12 lead at which time Princeton called time.
The Tigers got strong play on the frontline by Caitlyn Burks and pulled to within two at 21-19, but Liberty pulled away and took the opening game 25-21.
Switching sides of the court Princeton led early by three only to see the Raiders take a 12-11 advantage. The Tigers took control and went ahead 16-14 forcing the visitors to call time. Princeton held form and went on to win game two 25-20.
In the third game Princeton jumped to an early 11-4 lead and went up by as many as 11 points at 18-7. Liberty rallied and at one point got to within seven, but Princeton pulled away for the 24-14 win.
Looking to end the match in the fourth set, this game was a doozy. Tied at six, Princeton forged ahead 10-7 only to see Liberty draw even at 10. Three unanswered Tiger scores put Princeton on top 13-10. Liberty called time after which they went on a 7-3 spurt to take a 17-16 lead. The Tigers forced a tie at 22 on an ace by McKenzi Barnett, but Liberty went on to win 25-23 and send the match to a deciding fifth game.
The Tigers jumped out of the gate strong in the final game, going ahead 4-0 and eventually stretching their lead to 9-3 at which time Liberty called time. Kills by Barnett on two occasions helped keep Princeton in the lead, but slowly Liberty climbed back. An ace by Morgan Drennen pulled the Raiders to within three at 13-10, but Princeton then scored the game’s final two points to win the match 15-10.
“We like to go up and down, play good at times and not so good at times,” Whitt said. “To me it seems like we have kind of done that all year and to have a team that doesn’t quit on you says a lot.
“For them to keep it up and finish was a very big victory for us.”
The Tigers amassed some amazing numbers in the match. Adrianna Mitchem has 45 assists, 16 digs and seven kills and Hamm had 35 digs, 12 service points and three aces. Barnett had 15 kills, 10 digs, 19 service points and four aces and Kaleigh Barker had 24 kills, three blocks and 16 digs.
Princeton is now 15-8-2 and returns to action Saturday at the Charleston Civic Center in the Capital Tournament. They will participate in pool play against a trio of schools named after past American presidents, George Washington, Herbert Hoover and Woodrow Wilson.
— Contact Bob Redd at firstname.lastname@example.org