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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.

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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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