SALEM-A strong late season push for the Crestview volleyball team ran out of gas in the Div. III district semifinal Monday at Salem High School.
After upsetting third-seeded Liberty in the sectional final, the seventh-seeded Rebels succumbed to a strong Cardinal Mooney service game as well as some self-inflicted wounds, falling to the Cardinals 25-17, 24-26, 25-18, 25-13.
"Cardinal Mooney had some really strong serves. That's definitely the No. 1 thing that took us down," Crestview sophomore Brooke Harper said. "They put us in a slump that we just couldn't get out of. They were by far the best team we've played this year."
Harper led the Rebels (16-7) with 13 kills and four aces, while Adrienne Huston had 21 digs, Abbie Gallagher had 10 kills and Bri Cope had 13 digs and 28 assists.
Cardinal Mooney moves to 21-2. Up next for the second-seed Cardinals is a date with top-seed South Range (22-2) for the district championship at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at Cabas Gymnasium.
Mooney came out of the gate firing, building a 20-6 lead in the first set before the Rebels were able to regroup. Crestview rallied to within five points before dropping the set.
"Our athleticism set the tone tonight," Mooney coach Tony Gorvet said. "We don't have a lot of height, but as a team we really serve well. We have girls that can place the ball and some girls that can hammer the ball."
Crestview got their offense flowing in the second set, going on an 8-2 run to build a 20-14 lead before holding off a late Cardinal rally.
"We started passing the ball really well and that enabled us to run our offense," Crestview coach Alisha Auer said. "That was really the only time during the game we were able to control the ball."
Late in the third set, with the Rebels trailing 17-16, Mooney took control and never let go, scoring 8 of the last 10 points to take the set before cruising in the fourth. Nicole Weber led the Cardinals with 15 kills and six blocks, while Gina Patella had 31 assists and Maddie Abrigg had 16 kills.
"We thought we had something going after the second set, but then we just lost it," Harper said. "Mentally we could not regroup."
"The bottom line is that they served the ball really well and our service game completely broke down," Auer said. "That's what decided the game."
The Mooney-South Range game will be a replay from an early season match that the Raiders won in four sets. It was a match in which Mooney had seven service errors.
"South Range is a very good team," Gorvet said. "We won the first set and were up 24-20 in the second and they battled back to beat us, that tells you what kind of team they are. We're excited to get another chance at them."
The Cardinals were playing without one of their leading outside hitters, Jaclyn Yankle, who started all season before suffering a leg injury last week.
"I don't know about Jaclyn's availability for Wednesday," Grovet said. "She is going to have an MRI tomorrow and we'll go from there. Brooke Fonderlin came in and did a great job in her place tonight."