By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN
EXETER – The last time the Exeter Monarchs faced the Central Valley Christian Cavaliers, it ended in a 3-1 loss. In that game, Exeter committed 63 combined errors.
Since that game on Sept. 21, the Monarchs have not dropped a set in their last four Central Sequoia League (CSL) matchups, while CVC has unexpectedly lost twice.
That meant that Exeter, not CVC, held a one-game lead in the CSL entering Monday’s matchup at the Smith Gym. For all that it was worth, it was just a number considering what happened at the Smith Gym in 2016 between these two teams. Exeter, who had not beaten CVC in a CSL match since 2008, went up 2-0 only to lose 3-2.
In this matchup however, the errors were kept to a minimum and an attempted third set comeback by the Cavaliers was unsuccessful as the Monarchs swept the Cavaliers 3-0 (25-13, 25-18, 27-25).
“Tonight we played some really good volleyball throughout,” said Exeter head coach Samantha Hilvers.
In the first set, off the serve of Teagan Bryant, the Monarchs (22-12; 5-1) jumped out to a 7-0 lead. Of those first seven points, Bryant had three aces.
That was only the start for Bryant as she went on to record three kills and a block in that first set. Along with kills from Madelyn Sweepe and Alexis Kirkman, the Monarchs dominated in the first set. In fact, the Cavaliers (17-19; 3-3) trailed the Monarchs 20-9 at one point in the game.
An easy first set against the team that has won eight straight CSL titles would typically have some coaches worried — not Coach Hilvers. She had every confidence that her team would remain focused on the match.
“They know what happened last year when they let up,” she said.
The second set held the same beginning with the Monarchs jumping out to a large lead 9-3. Then the Cavaliers began to pick up momentum and tied up the game at 11-11. Bryant broke the tie with another kill on the way to taking the second set. Bryant finished with eight kills on the night.
“I was very impressed with the way that [Bryant] played, she had a heck of a night,” said Hilvers.
The third and deciding set began and CVC won the first point for the first time, a short lived victory as the Monarchs quickly retook the lead, but was unable to put much distance between them and the Cavaliers.
The nerves began to get to the Monarchs with the possibility that they could sweep CVC. Every game point, up by six 24-18 was not safe. Exeter began to leave lanes open that were well defended all night long and to make unforced errors.
Before the Monarchs knew it, CVC had tied them at 24-24 and forced extra points. Coach Hilvers began to have flash backs to what happened one year ago. In the 2016 matchup, CVC had won the third set by going to extra points.
Four points later, the flashbacks for coach Hilvers subsided as her Monarchs did not let the third set slip away.
“I was really happy that they were able to pull it out in the third, but they make me nervous sometimes,” she said.
Overall Hilvers was impressed with the way that her defense played. Up until that third set, the Monarchs had limited their receiving errors, primarily on plays like that of Sydney Guinn who stretched out for multiple digs.
With the win, the Monarchs now have a two-game lead in the CSL. If the Monarchs defeat the Immanuel Eagles in Reedley tomorrow night, Oct. 19, it will secure at least a share of the CSL title.
“We’ve just got to crush everybody so we can make it to valley again,” said Bryant.