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Mater Dei storms back to top Santa Margarita
SANTA ANA – When a lauded team sits atop the highest plateau of its sport — where dominance is expected every time it plays — it is beneficial for that team to have to show some resiliency when faced with adversity.
Take the top-ranked Mater Dei girls volleyball team, for instance.
After spotting No. 4 Santa Margarita two games in Tuesday's Trinity League match at Mater Dei, the Monarchs had to claw their way back to a 22-25, 26-28, 25-20, 25-23, 16-14 victory over the visiting Eagles to avoid dropping their second match in just over a week.
"Hopefully we don't make this our standard, spotting two games to teams every match," Monarchs coach Adam Cutrell said. "But I have to give kudos to Santa Margarita, they came out and put all the pressure on us. They had us flustered there in the beginning; not a lot of people can do that to us."
Led by Frankie Shebby's 27 kills and Sara Hughes' 18, Mater Dei (17-5, 2-0) rebounded from a shaky start to upend upset-minded Santa Margarita (12-3, 1-1).
In that final set, Shebby finished nine points herself — including the Monarchs' second crack at match point.
"We've been talking to her (Shebby) all season about setting the tone," Cutrell said of his junior outside hitter. "In years past, it used to be that we would go as our blocking and defense would go. The difference this year is that now we go as Frankie goes. When she gets hot, everyone seems to get hot."
To reach the decisive fifth set, Mater Dei rallied off a third set it controlled throughout and a fourth set that featured ties at 17, 18 and 20 before the hosts took five of the final eight points.
"They (Santa Margarita) will come out next time we play and give us the same challenge they did tonight," Cutrell said. "Everyone is going to get better. That match at their place is going to be off the hook."
Senior outside hitter Sofia Lavin led the Eagles with 26 kills, and Brittany Ptak finished with 21.