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Liberty rolls Independence in volleyball home opener

As the great Tom Petty puts it, the waiting is the hardest part.

Liberty had a scheduled match last week against Clovis-Buchanan postponed once and then eventually canceled because of extreme heat last week.

So when the Patriots finally had their home opener Wednesday against Independence, there was a lot of emotion that built up before a 25-6, 25-13, 25-15 win.

“All of the adrenaline we worked up trying to reschedule, reschedule, but it all worked out for today,” junior Elise Ferreira said. “It was meant to be. This was meant to be our first game, and it was a great one. We had fun with it, and I am excited for the rest.”

Liberty coach Amy Parker would have preferred to have played a quality match heading into last weekend's Clovis Volleyball Challenge, where Liberty had a less-than-stellar showing against the rest of the top volleyball teams in the Central Section.

There were obvious expectations for the Patriots after they won the Division I section title last year and brought back four starters, including Ferreira, who is verbally committed to Oregon.

“You come off winning a Valley title and they say, ‘Oh, you’re going to be so good,’ and they’re right, we are,” Parker said. “But it’s early September, and we talk about we will be playing our best in November. My underclassmen are coming along, but it’s going to take some time.”

Liberty has three sophomores and three more freshmen on the varsity roster, including freshman Bryanna Slayton and sophomore Sutton Coffey, who combined for six aces against Independence.

“The cool thing is the upperclassmen like to see the underclassmen have success,” Parker said. “It’s a group, and we all know we need every piece of the puzzle in order to be successful.”

Liberty is also working in Lanie Camarillo, a senior transfer from Frontier, and her freshman sister, Jalessa, into the rotation. Lanie had a match-high 13 kills for Liberty while Ferreira had 28 assists, five kills and three aces. Liana Caroccio had 13 digs.

“I am really lucky to have a great group of returners,” Parker said. “They do a really good job of getting those younger kids ready to play in this atmosphere.”

Ferriera knows that despite losing Brooklynn Cheney, the 2016 BVarsity Player of the Year, plus Emma Reynolds and Alicia Viveros to graduation, the Patriots still are one of the best teams in the section.

“Last year we basically had our team set after losing just one player (from 2015),” Ferreira said. “It was easy for us to be good from the beginning. This year, we have those young players. So we are going to have to work it and get it going and struggle. We are going to have to struggle. But by the end, we will have those kinks worked out.”