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Guards just miss upset

Girls' volleyball: Bell-Jeff takes No. 1 Hemet to the brink, losing CIF quarterfinal.

November 15, 2011|By Emin Avakian, Special to the Leader

BELLARMINE-JEFFERSON HIGH — The Bellarmine-Jefferson girls' volleyball team took the No. 1 seed of the Southern Section Division IV-A playoffs within one game of elimination — an exceptional feat considering its opponent hadn't dropped a game going into the match.

Leading two games to one, however, the Guards dropped the fourth, then ultimately fell in the deciding fifth game, to a Hemet squad that proved worthy of its standing, ousting Bell-Jeff in the postseason for a second consecutive season.

The all-too familiar opponent and Mountain Press League champion defeated Bell-Jeff in the semifinals last year, giving Guards Coach Miguel Segura and company extra motivation going into Saturday night's quarterfinal contest.


The extra incentive was evident throughout, as the Guards played with energy and heart, but in the end, fell short again to the Bulldogs in a thrilling, but upsetting, 21-25, 25-16, 25-27, 25-14, 15-8 home loss.

"The revenge factor was definitely there," said Segura after a post-game meeting with his distraught players. "It was a great battle. They fought back. We fought back."

It looked to be Bell-Jeff's night after the first game in which the Guards (14-7-2) never trailed, playing with intensity that the team was hoping would set a tone for the rest of the way.

Clearly caught off guard by the energy, the Bulldogs (20-5) kept it close throughout, but were on an uphill climb the entire way after the teams traded the first two points of the game.

"They came out with a lot of energy," said Hemet Coach Jewel Robinson, whose team — like the Guards in the Santa Cruz League — went undefeated in league play. "You can sense that they came out with a little extra motivation."

The teams played to six ties in the second game, with the last coming at 10-10. Thereafter, the Bulldogs took control and closed out the game on a 15-6 run, setting up an important third game.

Much like the second game, the third was a see-saw battle that had 12 ties and four lead changes. Hemet looked to be on its way to the commanding two-games-to-one advantage when they held a 20-14 lead. But the Guards took seven of the next eight points to knot the score at 21.

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