The Princeton Tigresses traveled across the county to face Three Rivers East rival St. Bede and played what was essentially error-free volleyball to hand the host Bruins a 25-19, 25-16 loss.
PHS senior McKenzie Hecht, who tied for the team lead in kills with seven, gave credit to the back row.
“Our libero wasn’t really our main passer tonight because they were serving all over the place. The other players in the back row did a lot of the passing,” said Hecht, an outside hitter, who spent some time in the back row late in the match.
“We played extremely well,” Princeton coach Andy Puck said. “This is not an easy gym to come into. Especially when the opposing coach [St. Bede’s Abbi Bosnich] knows a lot about us.”
Puck gave a lot of credit to senior setter Katie Bates, who had 23 assists and 10 digs.
“We were able to prevail at the net and at the serving line,” Puck said. “Katie Bates won this match for us tonight. She makes the unsettable ball settable, constantly putting the hitters in good position.”
Puck said it was important not just to win, but to win in straight sets.
“We’ve had to win in straight sets the last three meets in order to contend in conference,” he said. “It goes by overall sets – not matches.”
Princeton improved to 27-5-2 and 10-1 in conference.
“Princeton is playing really well right now,” Bosnich said. “They’re right where they need to be going into regionals.”
The Bruins fell to 8-15 overall and 4-7 in conference. Although her team did not come away with a win, Bosnich was pleased with her players’ effort.
“We played really well against a [Class] 2A team,” she said. “I was happy with our performance in the second half of the first set and most of the second set.”
The second set was close most of the way until Princeton senior Madison Richards served for her second long run of points, separating the Tigresses from the hosts.
“Madison Richards served us off the court tonight,” Bosnich said. “Serving isn’t really that big of a deal in today’s game. You can sometimes get a point off the other team’s errors. But for an athlete to have 16 points on serves is incredible. Hats off to Madison.”
Richards, who plays middle hitter, also shared the team lead in kills with seven.
The Bruins’ attack was led by setter Grace Maschmann, who had 13 assists.
“She ran a lot of quicks,” said Hecht, “and got right by our blocks.”
“We had more kills than we had errors,” Bosnich added. “I’m happy with that.”
St. Bede swept the early games, with the sophomores defeating Princeton, 26-24, 25-18, while the freshman team rallied for a 17-25, 25-10, 15-11 win.