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Valiants lose showdown with powerful Corbett

The top-ranked Cardinals take out Valley Catholic in three games
by: David Ball ON THE BLOCK — Valley Catholic's Rebecca Baglai puts up a block against Corbett setter Emma Busk in VC's three-game loss at Corbett on Tuesday.

CORBETT - A clash between the top two ranked teams in the state is supposed to be played in front of a packed house, and so it was Tuesday night when Class 3A volleyball power Valley Catholic came to undefeated Corbett on Tuesday night. The bleachers were filled to capacity and parking was pushed out to the street, as Cardinals fans did their part to build the excitement.

The Corbett players responded with a powerful three-game sweep over the Valiants, marking its third win over the Valiants this season, and all but locking up the Lewis and Clark East Division title in the process. The Cardinals beat the Valiants 25-23,25-14,25-23 at Corbett High School.

'The build-up for this one has been going for a long time,' Corbett coach Angela Davis said. 'The girls were more intense in practice this week, and it's just been a whole different atmosphere.'

The Cardinals started fast, holding the Valiants without a service point on their first trip through the ro-tation. That resulted in a quick 14-6 lead, sparked by Sophia Raglione's cross-court kill and an ace by Emma Busk that prompted Valley to take a quick timeout.

'The crowd got us excited,' Raglione said. 'We were pumped up and ready to play.'

The Valiants crawled to within a point in the late stages of the set behind a series of blocks and kills from heavy hitter Tori Kemper, who forced the Cardinals to make some adjustments in their blocking schemes to limit her ability to put the ball away later in the match, Davis said.

The Valiants had a chance to pull even, but Karina Lees turned back a Kemper kill shot in the middle of the net to keep Corbett in front 22-20. Three points later, Valley left a floater over the middle of the net, and Corbett's Natalie Herge pounded it home to finish the opening set.

Corbett cruised through the second game, pulling away on a three-point run by Kiki Frunk that featured a short serve that caught the Valiants by surprise and dropped in their front row. The Cardinals quickly pushed the margin to double digits after Elizabeth Wynne sent a block straight down on the other side.

Corbett appeared on the verge of finishing the night in easy fashion, breaking in front 13-6 in the third set on a block by Wynne, followed by a pair of service aces. The Valiants didn't help their cause after being penalized for an error in their rotation and sending a pair of serves into the net.

But Valley Catholic made a desperate charge, getting back within striking distance on a serving run by Kemper, who blasted one ball that hit a Corbett player and bounced into the bleachers.

The Valiants went on to take a late 23-22 lead when libero Kelsey Luyten made a diving save near the net, and teammate Katharine Jesse turned away Corbett's ensuing attack with a block on the right side.

Corbett called a timeout and returned to the court to win the final three points, ending play when Raglione's blast on match point caught the back line.

'Coach told us to swing hard and not worry about playing it safe, so I just went for it,' Raglione said.

Corbett improved to 21-0 on the year.