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Flintridge Prep girls’ volleyball can’t hold lead

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Flintridge Prep’s Ani Bernardi, center, and Chase Sullivan go up for a block during Tuesday’s Prep League match against Chadwick.
(Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — The Flintridge Prep girls’ volleyball team saw many of its rallies drag on against Chadwick on Tuesday in a Prep League match.

With a two-set lead, the Rebels paced themselves against the Dolphins in the third set hoping to complete the sweep at home. But as the rallies drew on, the momentum slowly shifted toward the visitor’s side of the court.

Chadwick used its size and strength at the net and its agility on the court to complete the comeback to win, 16-25, 16-25, 27-25, 25-21, 15-10, against host Flintridge Prep.

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Flintridge Prep girls’ volleyball player #2 Ellen Chang receives the ball in game vs. Chadwick, at home in La Canada Flintridge on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019.
(Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)

“I think we just got tentative,” Flintridge Prep coach Sean Beattie said. “We weren’t swinging as hard. We were trying to place the ball. I don’t think we were exhausted or overused. We slowed down the tempo in games three and four and gave them all the energy they needed to take those games. This one’s going to hurt.”

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The Rebels (12-4, 4-4 in league) led, 7-5, in the match-deciding fifth set before the Dolphins scored six consecutive points to take the lead, four of which came from freshman Bella Nash’s service aces.

Though the Rebels cut the Dolphins’ lead to one thanks to a pair of kills from sophomore Elise Desjarlais and one from senior Alex Kyriakakis, another pair of errors set up match-point for the visitors, who completed the victory with a block from sophomore Tirel Jackson.

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Flintridge Prep girls’ volleyball players #12 Ani Bernardi sets the all in game vs. Chadwick, at home in La Canada Flintridge on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019.
(Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)

“I just told them they have to take care of the ball on their side,” Chadwick coach Nicole Lyttle said. “If we can lessen our mistakes and keep our serves in, we have a chance. I think they believed in themselves toward the end of game three, and then we just took off from there.”

Nash finished with seven aces and eight kills and Jackson added nine kills. Chadwick middle Amaya Bagabo recorded 10 kills and three blocks.

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Desjarlais led Flintridge Prep with 16 kills, while Kyriakakis and senior Jada Gritton contributed 10 kills each. Rebels libero Ellen Chang had 43 digs.

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Flintridge Prep girls’ volleyball players #16 Jada Gritton goes for the spike in game vs. Chadwick, at home in La Canada Flintridge on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019.
(Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)

Rebels senior Kaitlyn Chen’s six kills propelled Flintridge Prep to a 25-16 win to capture the first set.

Though Chadwick (10-7, 6-4) cut the Flintridge Prep lead to 13-12 in the second set, the Rebels took on an 8-1 run to eventually come away with the 25-16 victory and the 2-0 lead.

The Rebels trailed for much of the third set as the Dolphins’ net defense benefited from Bagabo’s blocks.

After knotting the score at 19, Flintridge Prep trailed Chadwick, 23-20. Prep responded with four unanswered points to take a one-point lead and set-point on a kill from Kyriakakis.

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Flintridge Prep girls’ volleyball players #12 Ani Bernardi, center, and others celebrate a point in game vs. Chadwick, at home in La Canada Flintridge on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019.
(Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)

“We were trying to stay focused,” Kyriakakis said. “The motto that has been going around for our team is how we play for each other and not the crowd. We were kind of letting the crowd dictate how we were playing. We were listening to them and not focusing on each other. Going into the fourth set, we wanted to remain level-headed.”

Consecutive kills from Ainsley Childress gave the Dolphins the 27-25 win in the third set to avoid the sweep.

“I told them to take a deep breath,” Beattie said. “We’ve been down before. I think about halfway through game three, we slowed down the way we were playing, which gave Chadwick confidence and momentum. They just rode that momentum the whole way.”

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Flintridge Prep girls’ volleyball player #20 Kaitlyn Chen goes for the block on #12 Stephanie Norberg in game vs. Chadwick, at home in La Canada Flintridge on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019.
(Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)
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With the score tied at 11 in the fourth game, Flintridge Prep outscored Chadwick, 8-1, to take a 19-12 lead. The Dolphins answered back with a 12-1 run to close the set with a 25-21 win to tie the match.

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