The #1 ranked Lions welcomed Cate High School (#10) into a packed gym Wednesday night for the the CIF-SS Quarterfinals. Both teams struggled to get in a rhythm with four lead changes in the first set. Cate tied the game at 22-22 with a kill, but Lions’ OH Makenzie Phelps struck back with a block, to go up 23-22. Both teams would exchange a service error and Lions’ senior OH Kelly Rausch closed the set with a tip to kill for the 25-23 win.
Linfield carried the momentum into set two, starting out with a 4-0 lead with a kill from Phelps, ace from setter Devin Sivertson, and block from senior MB Alaina Tucker. The Lions slowly unraveled with a series of errors to allow Cate to tie at 13-13. Cate went on to serve 12 straight points with a commanding 13-25 victory in set two.
Much to the Lions’ dismay, set three looked similar to set two. Linfield responded with a few opening kills from Rausch and Phelps, but the set would once again reach 13-13, forcing Linfield to call timeout. The Lions’ responded with four kills out of five points to go up 17-14 out of the timeout. However, they had not escaped their errors just yet as the Servons worked to tie at 21-21. Cate would go on to earn their four remaining points to the Lions’ one, securing set three 22-25, gaining the 2-1 advantage in the match.
The Lions were left with no choice but to dig deep and that they did, earning 16 out of their 25 points behind OH Sarah Newman’s 3 kills and Rausch’s 3 kills, two of which were back-to-back to force a game 5.
The last time the Lions were in a game 5 situation was when they took down Division 5 league opponent Aquinas, and tonight was no different with a roaring crowd with them every single point. Lions’ MB Paige Williams put on a show at the net earning five of the Lions points off two blocks and three kills to put Linfield up 9-5. Rausch extended that lead to 11-6 with back-to-back kills forcing Cate to call timeout. The Servons got within reach of one point at 13-12, but Lions’ RS Caylan Medley put match point in Linfield’s favor with a tip to kill. The Servons were unable to keep the ball in play, and Linfield would run away with the 15-12 win and the match to advance to the CIF-SS Semifinals!
Rausch would earn the double-double with 16 kills and 12 digs, along with Devin Sivertson who finished with 39 assists and 17 digs. Williams would finish with 4 blocks, 10 kills, Newman with 17 digs and 7 kills, and libero Sam Hohulin tallied 19 digs on the night. Linfield will host the CIF-SS semifinal match against #4 Oceanview High School on Saturday, October 27th at 6:00 pm.