Flintridge Sacred Heart tested in victory

Erik Boal

For the first time in two weeks, the Flintridge Sacred Heart

Academy girls' volleyball team was actually forced to dip into its

reserve tank to pull out a victory.

After making a relatively challenging week seem all too easy in

wins against La Canada, Arcadia and Pasadena La Salle, the Tologs had

to dig down and earn Tuesday night's nonleague victory against L.A.

Marlborough.

Despite committing an uncharacteristic 33 hitting errors and

missing eight serves, Flintridge Sacred Heart overcame its own

miscues to post a 15-8, 10-15, 15-10, 15-7 win at home, its second

victory of the season against the Mustangs following a Sept. 16 sweep

in a fifth-place semifinal match of the Cerritos Gahr/Molten Classic.

"Marlborough is a very strong team and they're well-coached," said

Tolog Coach Nancy Tinkham, whose squad needed seven sideouts to post

a victory in the third game after leading, 14-2, and another four

sideouts to close out the match after holding a 14-4 advantage in the

fourth.

"Defensively, they did a great job against us.

"Offensively, I wish we could have been a little stronger. In the

third and fourth games, it just seemed like we couldn't get the

points."

When Flintridge Sacred Heart (7-2) was clicking on all cylinders

during certain stretches of the match, points were easy to come by

as Tinkham's squad ran off six straight to win the opening game,

eight of the first nine to open a big lead in the third and eight in

a row to open a large advantage in the fourth.

With Marlborough (4-6) focusing its defensive strategy on

containing Tolog senior outside hitter Jillian Davis -- who burned

the Mustangs for a career-high 22 kills in the teams' first meeting

-- junior opposite hitter Brittany Esser had a big night, tallying 14

kills, 16 digs, three blocks and two aces.

Still, after a slow start, Davis warmed up to record 16 kills, 10

digs and five blocks, giving her 136 kills and 132 digs in 31 games.

But despite the contributions of Davis and Esser, the Tologs --

ranked No. 4 in CIF Southern Section Division IVAA -- still had

trouble finishing off the eighth-ranked Mustangs, who recorded 54

digs and repeatedly forced Tinkham's squad to hit three and four

balls before eventually winning rallies.

"I have to find a way to get the kids to compete all the time and

motivate them to play better [in certain stretches]," said Tinkham,

whose squad surrendered five of the final six points in the second

game as Marlborough's Brittany Klienman recorded two of her team-high

10 kills.

"Everybody's playing well and everybody's focused, but sometimes

we suffer from a lack of enthusiasm or lack of a killer instinct."

But even with their own shortcomings Tuesday, the Tologs still had

too many weapons for a stubborn Mustang squad, with Loyola Marymount

University-bound setter Kacey Knauf amassing seven kills, six blocks,

11 digs and 46 assists.

The middle-blocking trio of Kathryn Gorsch, Kim Heller and Kelly

Herbert combined for 16 kills and 10 blocks and sophomore outside

hitter Kelly Smiland added seven kills, 14 digs and three blocks for

Flintridge Sacred Heart, which posted its fifth win against a ranked

opponent.

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