Some extra rest didn’t hurt the lady Bulldogs as they steamrolled their way through the playoffs to get to the section title game.
The Fall River volleyball team went through league play with relative ease then had an 11-day layoff as the top-seed in the Division VI playoffs. However, there was little rust to be seen as the lady Bulldogs powered their way past Chester and Redding Christian to earn the right to play for their second straight section crown.
The ninth-seeded Chester Volcanoes tried to take advantage of any possible rust that may have set in on Nov. 16. Chester (20-13-3) did test their mettle but couldn’t finish and Fall River (27-9-2) swept the match 25-21, 26-24, 25-17. Lauren Vestal led the Bulldogs attack with 16 kills and 13 assists but it was a complete team effort that led to victory. Kiley Sloat pitched in with seven kills and two blocks, Ashley Nielsen tallied five kills and five blocks. Mandy Lakey had 19 assists and Amy Ingram chipped in with nine digs. Fall River trailed 19-21 in the opening set when Kiley Sloat knocked down the kill shot to stop a shot Chester run. Mandy Lakey rotated to serve and the lady Bulldogs finished with six straight points to take game one.
Fall River was plagued with hitting error in the early part of the second set and trailed 11-19 when they made a turn. Vestal served up an ace, Sloat and Maryann Parker came up with kills to finish long volleys then Chester started to suffer with hitting errors.
Chester was at game point and gave the ball back to Fall River at 24-24. Renee Schneider had a block and Vestal killed the final point.
Fall River raced out to a 20-12 lead in game three and the teams traded points to the final.
The fourth-seeded Redding Christian Lions (19-8-1) came up for a semifinal clash on Thursday. The Lions put their focus on defending Vestal and Nielsen had a feast. The duo along with Schneider and Sloat at the net was more than the Lions could bare and the lady Bulldogs took the match 25-16, 20-25, 25-11 and 25-22.
Nielsen turned in 11 kills with four blocks to go with Vestals 12 kills and 15 assists and three aces. Sloat helped out with five kills and three aces, Schneider finished with four kills and four blocks in the middle.
The Lions erased deficits of 5-1 and 10-5 on Fall River miscues. But a pair of kills by Nielsen and an ace by Ingram sparked a Fall River rally. Vestal was next to serve, when she stopped the lady Bulldogs led 20-12 before finishing game one.
The second set was a fierce battle as the teams traded leads and nearly every point had to be won. Fall River was chasing early on but went up 18-13 before Redding made one last run to tie the match.
The third tilt looked to be a repeat of the second as they battled evenly to 6-6. But Fall River finished on a 19-5 run and only two of the Lions remaining points came consecutively. The Lions erased a 21-16 deficit in set four to get within a point at 23-22, but Fall River rotated into their starting set and took the next two points.