HEMET In the sports world, the term “rebuilding year” is viewed negatively.

   With a new coach at the 
helm and four new starters in the lineup, it’s hard not to think of this being a rebuilding year for the Hemet girls volleyball program. However, the Bulldogs want to prove this doesn’t mean some fall from glory.

   Hemet demonstrated its fighting spirit Saturday afternoon, rallying from a set down to defeat Riverside North, 22-25, 25-16, 15-6, to capture the title of its Dan Quam Memorial Tournament.

   “The girls showed determination and heart to bounce back from that shaky beginning and finish the day strong,” Bulldogs coach Joe Schnake said.

   Hemet went unbeaten during the day and improved to 8-0. It’s the perfect way to answer those who believe the program’s recent run of success will come to a sudden end. The Bulldogs have made four 
straight trips to the CIFSouthern Section finals and won section titles in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

   “We hear what people are saying and know what they are thinking,” senior outside hitter Mallory Marcus said. “They think we’re done, but that just makes us want to prove them wrong.”

   Hemet was expected to cruise through its pool-play matches in the morning, but the Bulldogs got a surprise when North pushed the match to three sets.

   The opening set of the final was knotted up at 19-19, but North took the lead after a kill by Margot Mafra-Spencer.

   Hemet raced out to a 9-4 lead in the second game. Marcus and Jillian Nickens 
, two of the team’s three returning starters, each had two kills down the stretch to help Hemet force a third and deciding set.

   Hemet dominated the net in the third. Grace Johnson, the other returning starter, registered four kills in the set and finished with 14 kills in the match.

   Marcus was chosen the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, while Johnson, setter Danielle Simmons and libero Hannah Cliff all were awarded all-tournament honors.

   Tyler Fezzey (eight kills) and Mafra-Spencer (six) each were selected all-tournament for North (6-2).



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