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Liberty volleyball stabilizes to get past Shadow Ridge

Posted 9/25/18

Richard Smith

West Valley Preps

In a match rife with inconsistency Tuesday nigh, Liberty junior right side Brooklyn Casey was the stabilizing force.

The visiting Lions traded 25-14 sets with …

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Liberty volleyball stabilizes to get past Shadow Ridge


Richard Smith

West Valley Preps

In a match rife with inconsistency Tuesday nigh, Liberty junior right side Brooklyn Casey was the stabilizing force.

The visiting Lions traded 25-14 sets with Shadow Ridge to start, as the teams in their first year of 6A play took turns committing a bevy of defensive errors.

The final two sets were more competitive, but Liberty seized control of both late to win the match 25-14, 14-25, 25-16, 25-19. Casey led the way with 19 kills.

"Brooklyn had an amazing night tonight. She's had her moments throughout the season, but she was on tonight. We kept encouraging our setters to feed Brooklyn because she was doing what she needing to do and not letting up," Johnson said.

Casey got Liberty (11-6, 5-4 regular season) going at the Surprise home of its former region rival.

Shadow Ridge (11-10, 4-4) was a helpful host early, as the Stallions were riddled with miscommunication on defense and poor transitions to offense.

"I thought it was very frustrating. We need to push through as a team and keep that consistency throughout the game," senior setter Kyley Pendgraft said.

Then the teams reversed roles. Led by Pendgraft's three aces and junior middle blocker Abby Allen's four kills, the Stallions energized the crowd with a 25-14 win.

First-year coach Linda Rodl - Shadow Ridge's third head coach in three years - said the second set offered a glimpse of the team's potential, while the other sets shed some light on their inconsistencies.

"You saw what we're trying to do in the set we won. You saw from whence they cometh in the other sets - nobody holding them accountable for running an offense and staying in system. The more they get better at what I'm asking of them, the more wins will pile up against the better, more consistent teams," Rodl said.

The teams battled to a draw midway through the third set, tied at 15. Then Liberty took command, reeling off 10 of the next 11 points.

During the third set, sophomore Maranda Schneberger and junior Gracie Newbern gave Casey support in attack.

"We've been working really hard on trying to fix what we need to fix in the moment. They fact they did it right after that second set was good. I'm really proud of that," Johnson said.

The Lions took momentum into the fourth set, grabbing a 8-3 week. Shadow Ridge battled back to get within two points at 11-9.

However, Liberty regrouped after a massive kill by Shadow Ridge senior middle blocker Dejah Behrend made it 14-11, scoring the next three points.

Blocks by juniors Anabelle Gregory and Allen drew the Stallions within 21-19. But that was it, as the Lions closed the 25-19 victory on two Casey kills and one from Newbern.

“I think we can do it, we’re just not finishing. I think we can finish. We have before. We just need to be more consistent with each other. We need to pick each other back up more,” Shadow Ridge senior defensive specialist Bri Grabber said.

Both teams are dealing with the move up to 6A, though in different regions. And though it is early, both teams lead their leagues.

Two wins against Boulder Creek have Liberty atop the Desert Valley, but Johnson is well aware that the toughest tests in that league are yet to come. Shadow Ridge is at 6-0 atop the softer Southwest Region and beat Valley Vista, which figures to be their toughest competition.

Either way both teams learned one thing quickly. Every win in 6A must be earned.

"6A has been a challenge for us. We've been competitive but it's definitely been an eye opener, how many great teams there are, especially on the east side. Our region is stacked too," Johnson said.

Shadow Ridge's Dejah Behrend hits the ball over the net against Liberty on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018 at Shadow Ridge High School in Surprise. [Jacob Stanek/West Valley Preps][/caption]