Monarchs challenge Cavaliers, ground Eagles

Monarchs volleyball recaptured some of its royal swagger last week. But Exeter’s confidence boost didn’t come from its victory over Immanuel, it came in defeat.

On Oct. 27, the Monarchs (5-2) made the short trip to Visalia to take on the Central Valley Christian Cavaliers (7-0) in a crucial league match. The trip has been even shorter in the last seven years as CVC has dispatched Exeter in straight sets.

The first set looked like it would be much of the same for the Monarchs as the Cavaliers rode their win streak to an easy 25-19 win. The match quickly went on the offensive as both teams aggressively attacked the net. The defense couldn’t keep up with the onslaught as few blocks were recorded for either team. Exeter battled in the second set and forced several match points before CVC again overtook them 26-24.

And just when it looked like CVC’s streak was going to continue, the Monarchs found what they had been missing in the third set. Facing another loss without winning a set, Exeter’s offense exploded with a 25-19 win. After winning their first set against the Cavaliers since 2008, the Monarchs pulled out a close match 25-23 to force a tie-breaking fifth set. CVC proved too much for the Monarchs in the 15-8 final set, but Coach Zack Zuniga said it was as close to a moral victory as his team will ever have.

“Now they know we can [beat them] and more importantly we know we can,” Zuniga said. “We are looking forward to the rematch in the playoffs and we will be ready.”

Olivia Harden led the team with 21 kills and 30 digs. Amanda Acosta had an excellent all-around match with 10 kills, four aces, 20 digs and 54 serves received. Senior Valerie Vargas led the team with 40 as sists.

Exeter couldn’t replicate its stellar play against the Immanuel Eagles (5-2) on Oct. 29 but the Monarchs still came away with a 3-0 victory to keep the No. 2 spot in the Central Sequoia League. The first set was back and forth as the Monarchs consistently trailed by two points. Exeter got focused late in the set and finally took the lead 20-19. It was the last time the Monarchs would trail the rest of the match winning 25-22, 25-17 and 25-21.

“We didn’t play well tonight but we did enough to get a win,” Zuniga said. “Our defense has been very consistent but our offense has struggled at times.”

Senior Brooke Lamb had two aces on 100% serving. Acosta finished with two aces, 13 kills, 22 serves received and 10 digs. Harden had 14 kills, 13 digs and nine serves received.

Exeter traveled to Kingsburg last night, Nov. 3, to take on the Vikings (3-5) and will finish the regular season on the road against the Dinuba Emperors (2-6) at 6 p.m. today, Wednesday, Nov. 4 before beginning their slate of playoff games.

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