MANLIUS – Princeton’s volleyball team was a lot like this year’s Bureau Valley Storm team two years ago, starting six sophomores in 2019, where the Storm are now playing four sophomores.
That senior experience is paying dividends for the Tigresses, who breezed to a 25-11, 25-8 win over the young Storm to improve to 11-1 overall and 6-0 in the Three Rivers Conference East Division.
“I would totally agree [about senior experience]. I’ve been on the other side of the net. These matches will definitely make them (BV) stronger,” Princeton coach Andy Puck said. “Senior leadership definitely put us over the top tonight.”
Bureau Valley coach Caitlyn DeMay said matches like this will only help her sophomores, such as setter Kate Salisbury and Emma Stabler, Ella Thacker and Annabelle Myong, at the net.
“Get them at the varsity level, they can only get better with experience,” she said. “There’s a lot to look forward to with the Bureau Valley program.”
Princeton led, 13-6, in the first game and then ran off six straight points to go up, 19-8. Bureau Valley mustered just three more points with the Tigresses finishing a 25-11 victory.
The second set was much like the first with the Tigresses running out to a 14-4 lead on the strength of kills by senior Madison Richards and an ace by junior Kiana Brokaw.
Senior Ashley Nordstrom pushed for the Storm sideout, but it momentarily slowed down the Tigresses. Senior Mckenzie Hecht had four kills to push PHS to a 19-5 lead.
The Tigresses closed out with six straight points, with senior Maya Gartin getting four with junior Madison Doran in to serve.
“Princeton’s a good team. It’s always fun to play them. Can’t wait to play them again,” DeMay said.
Princeton spread its attack at the net around as Hecht had seven kills and Jenna Loftus, Maya Gartin and Richards had five each. Senior libero Abby Peterson had 13 digs and Brokaw led with nine points.
Puck praised the setting of senior Katie Bates, who had 23 assists.
“Everything goes through her, back row, front row,” he said. “It’s hard to pinpoint anyone because everyone did their job and did their job well. Katie never leaves the floor as setter. She turns some ugly passes into really good sets and hittable balls.
Senior Tyra Sayler (9) and Lexie Marquez (5) combined for 14 digs for the Storm (5-10, 1-3), while sophomore Emma Stabler led BV with three kills and Kate Salisbury added five assists.
Puck had some trepidation this week with matches against Hall (Monday) and BV (Tuesday) as potential trap matches leading into Thursday’s key TRAC East showdown at home with Newman, the only team to beat PHS this fall.
“I had conversations with my kids before this match and really wanted to make sure we weren’t looking to Newman first. We really needed to take Hall last night and tonight one game at a time,” Puck said. “This gym’s not easy to play in. I’ve had some really good teams come in here and not do well.”
Notes: BV swept the underclass matches winning 21-25, 25-12, 25-23 at the sophomore level and 25-14, 27-25. ... The Bureau County rivals will play at Princeton on Oct. 5.