BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Just as individual volleyball matches can have wild momentum swings, so can entire volleyball seasons.
Stockdale benefitted from both at home Thursday night, winning big points and continuing a late-season roll with a Central Section Division I quarterfinal victory over Liberty, 19-25, 25-19, 25-23, 25-22.
"We talk a lot about making our adrenaline work for us," Stockdale coach Maria Collatz said. "Liberty did that against us in Game 1, and we talked about bringing it back to our side of the net."
Now the third-seeded Mustangs have a road date with No. 2 Clovis West at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Stockdale (25-10), which has won six of eight, will play in the D-I semifinals for the first time since 2006.
"Midseason, we had our backs against the wall, and we found a way to finish a few tough matches," Collatz said. "That's when I kind of thought, 'We could have something here.' Well, it's doable now."
First, the Mustangs had to rally past Liberty (20-13), which lost five of six to end the regular season but came out firing in this one, taking control with a 10-4 run midway through the set.
"At this level, at this point in the season, it's a momentum game," Liberty coach Lean Slayton said. "And in our league, when you get that momentum going the wrong way, you have no chance to catch your breath.
"I was proud that we were able to come back and play at a high level tonight."
But the Patriots couldn't keep their momentum from the first game, despite the heroics of Nikki Leonard, who finished with another monster game: 24 kills, 36 digs and seven blocks.
Starting in Game 2, Stockdale started to use its size in the middle and offensive diversity to wreak havoc on Liberty, offensively and defensively:
Five Mustangs finished with at least three kill-blocks, and four had at least 12 kills.
"Getting a huge stuff block is such a huge rush of adrenaline," said Layne Dillingham, who had 12 kills and three blocks. "I don't even know the words. It's the best feeling. It changes momentum."