The last time San Luis Obispo High’s girls volleyball team faced off against PAC 7 rival Arroyo Grande, key Tigers’ players were suffering from injuries and sickness.
On Tuesday, the Tigers came healthy and ready to avenge the three-game sweep in their first matchup Sept. 27 by taking control early with a 10-point first set win at 25-15.
San Luis Obispo (20-7, 7-3 PAC 7) took advantage of some early errors, well-placed sets by star Maggie Eppright and accurate kills by Anna Pederson.
But then came Arroyo Grande’s precision followed by its power — fueled by senior Millisa Morrow’s booming kills off nifty sets by Alaina Hogeboom, who finished with 37 assists.
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Arroyo Grande (24-6, 11-0) won a key third set to take a 2-1 edge, then dominated the fourth set to win the match 15-25, 25-18, 27-25, 25-17.
Morrow led the way for the Eagles with 18 kills and six aces, and freshman Ashlyn Herlihy tallied eight kills.
“Millisa and Ashlyn really stepped it up tonight,” Arroyo Grande coach Ernie Santa Cruz said. “And overall, after some early unforced errors, we came together and played well when we needed to. We showed good character.”
Most critically, the Eagles showed their poise in a close third set.
Trailing 24-19 with the match tied at a set apiece, Arroyo Grande got a timely sideout and then rallied on the serve of Hogeboom to win five straight points.
A kill by Alyssa Koenig gave the Eagles the lead at 26-25 and then they closed out the set by blocking a slam by the Tigers.
San Luis Obispo came into the match in second place in the PAC 7.
Pederson was a key contributor for the Tigers, tallying 12 kills and giving her team a big boost early in the match with some key hits on the left side.
Opposite Pederson, Ariel Becker challenged the Eagles with well-timed leaps to record 10 kills.
Eppright had 30 assists and mixed in a variety of jump sets, long tosses across the court, and surprise fakes in which she pushed the ball over the net instead of to teammates. She finished with five kills.
San Luis Obispo coach Manny Carter said the third set was the pivotal one.
“If we would have taken that set, I think we would have played a little looser,” Carter said.
“We would have gone up 2-1. In the fourth set, you could tell our girls were just deflated.”
Carter credited freshman Holland Boege for playing a strong match, recording seven kills. He said that Morrow played terrifically as well.
“In my eyes, Millisa Morrow is the best player in the county,” Carter said.
Morrow said that nerves didn’t play a role early in the match but a lack of mental focus led to some early unforced errors for her team.
“Later in the match, I think Alaina and I really clicked and we were passing the ball great,” Morrow said. “But San Luis Obispo is a great team. They put a lot of pressure on us.”