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Panthers score road win at Princeton
In a contrast of styles between two teams with veteran leadership, the Maxwell High volleyball team overwhelmed the Eagles Thursday evening in Princeton.
Both teams features seniors who began playing varsity as underclassmen, but it was the Panthers' size in the middle and array of outside hitters that was the difference as they won in four sets 25-18, 22-25, 25-19, 25-19.
Jenna Powell and Kaily McKinley led Maxwell with 12 kills each, and Jessie Otterson contributed seven kills, while Maryssa Martin led Princeton with 14.
No other Eagle player had more than four kills.
"That gives us an advantage," Powell said. "We kind of knew every time they were going to go to (Martin). We were just watching her but they don't know where Shelen (Boyes) is going to set."
Maxwell got off to a quick start in the first set with Otterson and McKinley controlling the action. Otterson made four kills and two aces, and McKinley tallied six kills.
Martin picked apart the Panthers' defense in the second set with six kills and tied the match at one game apiece.
But the Panthers adapted and focused on Martin in the final two games, holding her to three kills, and won both.
"I like those games," Powell said. "I hate when we just blow through people, it's more fun to play competitive teams."
Otterson finished with four aces, senior outside hitter Brittney Haywood had two kills and two aces, senior setter Shelen Boyes had a block and an ace, senior libero Maribel Venegas served up three aces, and sophomore outside hitter Taylor Perry had three kills.
The win moved Maxwell, which didn't play in any tournaments this season, to 5-1 overall with three games remaining before Mid-Valley League play starts.
Princeton fell to 8-8 with three games left before Pioneer-Valley League play begins.
At this point last season the Eagles were 9-7 before closing out the season with a 21-9 record, and Martin believes this team is capable of duplicating that success.
"It's good to come out and play a team like this, it's better than playing anyone who is below us," said Martin, who has started since her freshman year. "I love playing up, I love the challenge. I'd take this over a win against a bad team any day."
Seniors Amanda Hansen (three aces, two kills), Marisela Valencia (three kills, 25 digs) and Lauren Ferreira (two aces, 20 digs, 10 assists) played critical roles on defense keeping the Eagles in the game.
Juniors Brianna Zoller (four kills, two blocks) and Arianna Ilharreguy (three aces) helped Princeton stay in the match.
"The young girls are doing a good job of stepping up," Martin said. "I think we still have some holes to fix but I think we can be just as good if not better."
CONTACT Kirk Barron at email@example.com