Knights girls volleyball rebounds with first-round sweep in state playoffs

Trinity Classical Academy's Reagan Fernandez (3) pits a shot over the net against Holtville defender Litzy Velarde (3) on Tuesday, November 12, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

Deep into a playoff run, Trinity Classical Academy volleyball is seeing every game as a bonus.

“We just get to be together, have fun playing volleyball and it’s another opportunity,” said Trinity coach Rebecca Peluffo.

The Knights looked loose but determined on Tuesday night as they swept Holtville, a town near the border of California and Mexico, at the Henry Mayo Fitness Center in the first round of the Division V CIF State Regional tournament.

The team had to hit “reset” after a 3-1 loss to Oakwood on Saturday in the CIF-Southern Section Division 8 championship.

“We were disappointed because we knew we could’ve won that game, but we knew we had another chance to do something big and had another really great opportunity,” said senior Reagan Fernandez. “I think we were using this as a game (where) this is fun for us and we wanted to keep playing. We came in confident but not cocky.”

The Knights fit that description in the first game, going on long scoring runs to limit the Vikings to just 10 points. Fernandez went up for multiple powerful kills, each of which were set up by organized passing by her teammates.

Trinity Classical Academy’s Katie Brown (18) goes up to block a shot by Holtville’s Litzy Velarde (3) on Tuesday, November 12, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

“Our passing definitely allowed us to establish her more,” Peluffo said. “That’s been our plan all season, to make sure our passing stayed in system so we can establish her and she did a great job of when she was set of executing well.”

Trinity won the game 25-10 and Fernandez went on to finish the night with nine kills, the second-most on the team.

The Knights encountered minimal difficulties in the second game forcing a Holtville error to win 25-12.

Fighting back in the third game, the Vikings mounted a 4-1 lead to gain some momentum. Trinity was able to tie it up at 4-4 on an ace from Fernandez, but Holtville snatched the lead back when a Knights serve went long.

A block from Tori Fay knotted the score again, then Lily Caddow served up an ace to get Trinity ahead once again.

Three serves later, the freshman had another ace. Trinity as a team showed a difference in serving compared to Saturday’s game against Oakwood.

“Our serving made the difference in this match by far,” Peluffo said. “They were hitting short spots, they were playing cat and mouse, as we call it, make them move deep and it kept them out of system to get us free balls and tips so we can really execute out of our offense.”

The Knights thrived on serving while the Vikings struggled, which resulted in a 25-14 win in Trinity’s favor. Tamar Tchilingirian had the game-winning kill.

Trinity Classical Academy celebrates its lead in the third game against Holtville on Tuesday, November 12, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

Paige Kim finished the game with 12 digs and six kills, while Fay had seven digs and 12 kills. Nicole Amoroso logged eight digs, two kills, 35 assists and three aces and Riley Spector had a team-high 15 digs.

Trinity will play Elizabeth High School of Cudahy in the second round of the CIF State Regional tournament on Thursday. The location is to be decided.

“This is fun for us, so we’re going to have fun,” Peluffo said. “We’re still going to train and clean up some things as we see fit, but we just want to have fun together and finish the season well.”

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