All the Liberty girls volleyball wants is a break.
That’s what coach Courtney Johnson said after the Lions pulled out a 3-0 (25-15, 25-14, 25-18) win against Valley Vista Tuesday.
The victory over the Monsoon comes on the heals of Liberty’s second place finish at the Chandler House of Payne Invitational this past weekend, which included a 2-0 win against Valley Vista Friday. The Lions lost in the championship game to Desert Ridge, 2-1, including a 15-12 thriller in Game 3.
“We just came out flat tonight,” Johnson said. “We have to learn how to play above a lack of energy, we have to be above being tired and above coming out flat. No excuse, they (the team) had a rough schedule last week, but they have to learn how to prevail despite having a lack of energy.”
Johnson cited how worn down mentally her team was after playing 12 games in six days, but that fatigue didn’t appear unitl Game 2 against the Monsoon.
Valley Vista capitalized on a handful of Liberty attacking errors and a service ace from Asha Hart to jump out to a 9-3 lead. Johnson called a timeout and Tatum Cushing responded with a high set that Nicole Pauga crushed for a point, halting the Monsoon’s momentum.
That kill sparked a 22-5 run as Sheridan Rabe capped the game with a kill and blocked tip to end the second set.
Game 3 was back-and-forth until the undersized Monsoon blocked a Pauga tip into the net then mishandled Amanda Gubler’s serve for an ace that tied the score at 12. From there, the Lions went on a 6-2 run to open up the game.
“Valley Vista gave us a much better game tonight than what we saw at the tournament,” Johnson said. “We came out dragging and they took advantage of it.”
With a senior-ladened squad, the Monsoon knocked off No. 4 seed Deer Valley in the first round of the 5A-II state tournament. But with 10 seniors graduating, that left this year’s squad thin at the net and in experience.
“I only have two returning players from last year’s roster,” said Valley Vista coach Tonya Lee. “Some of the experience from last year’s run is carrying on, but with my three freshman, they don’t know about that winning tradition yet. We’re slowly getting there. I don’t have a very powerful team, but I have a smart team and we’re adjusting quicker and quicker with every match.”