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Cougars maul St. Mary’s

By Jared Green Daily Planet Staff
Thursday October 19, 2000

Sandwiching two lackluster efforts around a stellar second game, the St. Mary’s girls’ volleyball team lost to the visiting Albany Cougars, 15-8, 16-14, 15-6, on Wednesday afternoon. 

Led by the monster spikes of Alison West, the Cougars dominated the first game of play. St. Mary’s never really got going, and several unforced errors led to a 15-8 Albany win. 

But the second game was a real barn-burner. After falling behind 7-2, the Panthers came back to win the next four points as Ronice Sweet put together two blocks and a kill to get her team back within striking distance. Several kills by West and Rachael Loomen put the Cougars back up at 13-7, but once again the Panthers showed resiliency. 

St. Mary’s rolled off seven straight points as outside hitters Kristina Shapona and Jazmin Pratt hit winner after winner over and through the Albany blockers. The streak was finished by Kamaya Warren’s well-placed dink, and the Panthers had a chance to win the second game and make it a real contest. 

“We’ve had trouble putting teams away,” Albany coach Natalie Cabezud said after the match. “We want to play every point like it’s the last one.” 

But several mishits by St. Mary’s players put the game back in Albany’s hands, and West took control once again. After a kill to win a side out, she hit a spike down the line to give her team the game, 16-14, and take the spirit from St. Mary’s. 

The final game of the match was tied at 5-5 when the Cougars began pulling away. Two consecutive aces by Loomen started a long run of Albany points. The Panthers gave it a last gasp effort at 11-6, forcing eight side-outs in a row, but the power play of West and the tactical strikes by her teammates overwhelmed St. Mary’s, and the Cougars scored four straight to put the match away.