By Mike Maltais
The Liberty Bell High School varsity girls’ volleyball team pulled three wins out of four games over a seven-day stretch that included three road opponents last week, but the Lady Lions’ single loss was one that mattered.
Following a 3-0 shutout at Lake Roosevelt on Oct. 7, a 3-1 win over Tonasket on Thursday (Oct. 9), and a 3-1 squeaker at Waterville on Saturday (Oct. 11), Liberty Bell let Oroville apply the brakes to the victory express with a 3-0 loss to the Hornets, which now puts the Lady Lions in a must-win position when they play the Trojans at Manson on Oct. 28.
“A win at Manson would enable us to get fourth in the north, and go straight to districts instead of to an eliminator game before districts,” said coach Tim Boonstra, expressing his disappointment at the loss.
The Lady Lions kept the first two games close, taking the Hornets to 25-23 both times. Oroville finally found the handle in game three and won by six.
“What we learned is that just as my team needs to grow, I still have a lot of growing to do as a coach,” Boonstra said. “I need to find ways to help my girls bring their absolute best to practice every day so that we can in turn bring our best to our games.”
After dropping the first game to Liberty Bell, 25-22, the Shockers fought back to take game two by a five-point margin. The Lady Lions soon cleared the chaff from their eyes and rebounded with a 25-22 win in game three and 25-20 margin in the final.
“After serving the ball so well against Lake Roosevelt on Tuesday, it was a real bummer to serve so poorly against Waterville on Saturday,” Boonstra observed. “Beyond that, we defended pretty well, and moved the ball well.”
Lauren Fitzmaurice, Katie Labanauskas and Erin Frey were the frontcourt kill leaders, with 13, 6, and 6 respectively.
“Although Fitzmaurice contributed three blocks and Labanauskas one, our blocking was not as effective as I would have liked, as time and time again the Waterville attackers fooled our blockers,” the coach said.
“Ashley Watson was setting the ball well and totaled 25 assists,” Boonstra said. “Her setting is invaluable to our offense.”
It was a determined pride of Lions that welcomed Tonasket, as Liberty Bell used the sting from a three-point first game loss to win the next two by identical 25-23 scores.
Game four looked like it was all Tonasket as the Tigers figured to ride a 10-point lead to a deciding fifth game. However, Fitzmaurice anchored the net with a 50-percent 12-for-24-kill ratio to keep the Lady Lions in the hunt. Frey wasn’t far behind with nine kills to her credit.
Boonstra said he thought the girls lacked some sharpness, as evidenced by a serve percentage that didn’t get beyond the high 60s. But it was Torie Weber at the service line who put the final ace serve away to give Liberty Bell the final 31-29 victory.
Liberty Bell will host Brewster on Thursday (Oct. 16) at 7 pm. On Tuesday (Oct. 21), the Lady Lions will travel to Bridgeport in an attempt to tame the Fillies.