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Morgan Hill
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December 11, 2023

Dramatic rallies highlight Christopher’s 3-1 win over Live Oak

In the first set of Thursday’s match at Live Oak, Christopher couldn’t get that final point to take a 1-0 lead.
Instead, a 24-18 was erased and the Acorns went on to win 27-25.
In the fourth set, Christopher returned the favor.
The Cougars survived four set points, rallied from being down 24-21 to win a dramatic 30-28 game and captured a heart-stopping match in four.
Live Oak forced Christopher to play a fourth game for just the second time this season, but the Cougars went on to win 25-27, 25-22, 25-20, 30-28.
“That’s what they’ve been doing all season,” said CHS Coach Brian Calimpong. “Yeah last week we won in three all three matches, but that’s just kind of their MO. When someone pushes back, they push.”
Christopher improves to 8-2 overall while Live Oak falls to 2-5 in the season.
Unforced errors cost Live Oak down the stretch, as five of Christopher’s points at the end came off of hitting and serving errors and a double-hit call.
“We were actually neck and neck and doing really well, but I think they wanted it too much because the errors they made were just the adrenaline going up,” said Live Oak Coach Laura Coleman. “That’s not normal. We hardly had any missed serves and now we serve one out. That was hard.”
Even so, Coleman said thrilled that the Acorns played Christopher so close.
“That was the best I’ve seen them play. I’m all excited,” Coleman said. “… We have a lot of areas to work on, but teamwise, we played really well.”
Then Katelyn Viray threw down a pair of kills to allow the Cougars to serve match point twice, but a service error and a kill from Lianne Rupp extended Live Oak’s life in the fourth.
“Yeah there were a few errors and in the past we would have jumped all over our kids for, but here, we know that we don’t have to,” Calimpong said. “They understand what happened and we can go to that next point and they can make that next point.”
After setter Christa Arroyo landed a kill to put the game at 29-28, Kiely Roden threw down the final kill that landed in a no-man’s land in the Acorn defense and the Cougars went nuts.
Arroyo didn’t have many kills on the night, as she was the facilitator most of the night, serving up 45 assists against four kills.
And Roden had just eight kills coming into that final serve.
It was in contrast to a pair of Cougars who led the attack for the entire night, with Viray hat 17 kills to lead all hitters, followed by Samantha Dolan who had 14.
“I had the awesome opportunity to have been working with her since we were 10. We’ve been buddies since we were 10 years old, so it worked out,” Dolan said.
The fourth set, Live Oak led for the majority of the contest, taking the lead at 9-8 and held on for the rest of the way.
Although Christopher tied the game as late as 20-all, a pair of errors and an ace from Emily Pelz pulled Live Oak to a three-point lead late.
Lianne Rupp scored a kill that gave Live Oak set point to possibly force a fifth and final game.
“Coach Laura does a great job with her girls and they can play,” Calimpong said. “Hats off to them, they were giving us trouble every single point where we tried to run something.”
The scenario was reversed from the first set.
Christopher led by as much as nine late in the first and was serving game point at 24-18.
But hitting errors from the Cougars combined with a pair of kills from Julieanna Blotz with additional kills from Lindsay Baker and Pelz, Live Oak came all the way back.
“I think it was miscommunication. We have a great team chemistry this year. Last year we had taller players, but there was no chemical bond, no chemistry. I think we were just in over our heads,” Dolan said.
Blotz led the Acorns with 13 kills, followed by Rupp with nine.
Baker put the final nail in the coffin when she went up for a block that fell to the floor for a 27-25 win.
Calimpong said he started a different lineup in the first set and there was a bit of an adjustment his players needed to make.
Calimpong said he feels his bench is just as strong as his starters, but there was some inexperience that became obvious, especially playing some underclassmen in key positions early.
But in the second, he said the girls found a rhythm and the overall chemistry of the team showed.
The momentum from that first game seemed to carry over into the second.
After trailing 13-11 midway through the game, Live Oak went on a 9-3 scoring run to go up 20-16.
But that’s when Christopher found its rhythm.
Dolan had four kills to lead the Cougars in a 9-2 run to even the match.
“Our adjustment mainly was to keep energy up and communicate,” Dolan said. “I personally was screaming my head off. By the end of the game, my throat is dead and I have a headache. It was just a lot of energy and I had help from Marielle Gomez and Christa Arroyo.”
The Cougars kept the pedal down in the third.
Even though Live Oak led 8-7, Christopher never trailed the rest of the way.
Rupp and Blotz made a run late to pull Live Oak to within one, but that was as close as the Acorns came.
A kill from Viray, an ace from Grace Gundy and a second kill from Roden gave the Cougars a comfortable late lead.
Then the Acorns’ mishits gave Christopher its final four points of the set.
This was Live Oak’s final tune up before kicking off Mt. Hamilton Division play 6 p.m. Sept. 22.
Christopher, meanwhile, heads to the Harbor Tournament starting Saturday with a 9 a.m. first match against San Lorenzo Valley. The Cougars will also face Carmel and former state champion Granite Bay.

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