In the early goings of last Thursday’s match in Arbuckle, it looked like Pierce’s varsity volleyball team didn’t have an answer for Hamilton’s Morgan Avrit.
Hamilton jumped ahead 8-2 in the first game of the match in a run that saw Avrit throw down four straight kills past the Bears defense. Pierce fought their way back to bring themselves within a point, 15-14, but after a side-out Hamilton sophomore Maddy Pankratz served seven straight points, including an ace. Avrit had a kill and a block during that run to help bring the score to 22-14. She had another kill to put the score at 24-16, and give the Braves a set-point situation. The Bears battled – earning a side-out before scoring three straight on a block by Callie Muniz, a kill by Alexis Dorantes, and an ace by Emily Ehrke – but Marisela Trenado-Alba spiked the ball for a kill to seal the win for Hamilton, 25-20. Avrit finished the first game with seven kills and a block. She would go on have just seven more kills over the course of the next three games, as the Bears adjusted and went on to win each of them by scores of 25-12, 25-10, and 25-17.
In game two, Pierce was up 9-8 when they started to find their groove on offense. The Bears closed the game out on a 16-4 run as Ehrke and Sierra Murphy took turns feeding Muniz, Dorantes, and Katie Williams for kills. With the Bears up 17-11, Murphy stepped up to the service line and served five straight points – the first three of which were aces – to expand the lead to 22-11. A Hamilton side-out followed by a serving error made it 23-12. Williams served the final two points – scored on a Dorantes kill and an ace – to wrap up the 25-12 win and tie the match at a set apiece.
In game three, a Halle Charter kill put the Bears up 6-5, and Pierce led from that point on. Muniz, Charter, and Dorantes paced the Bears on a 14-5 run – putting Pierce up 20-10 – before Murphy served the game’s final five points.
In game four, Pierce battled their way to a slim 18-16 lead – with a number of kills from Dorantes, Muniz, and Ehrke – before a Charter kill gave them a side-out and put Ehrke on the service line. Ehrke opened with a pair of aces, and Abby Mendoza and Charter followed that with a kill apiece to put the Bears up 23-16. A block by Charter ultimately ended the game and the match, with the Bears winning their third set 25-17.
Ehrke was strong all around for the Bears, finishing with 11 kills and five aces – both team-highs – to go along with 20 assists. Muniz had 10 kills, followed by Charter’s eight. Sierra Murphy had a team-high 23 assists, as well as three aces. Betsy Myers had 13 digs, 23 serve receptions, and three aces. ■