MANLIUS — Coming into the season, Abbi Bosnich knew her Bureau Valley volleyball team would rely heavily on the play and mental toughness of its talented senior crop of athletes. Her team’s chances of success this season would be put on their shoulders.
Those seniors stepped onto the court for their first match of the season and showed they had the talent and the perseverance to make two late comebacks, defeating visiting Annawan 25-23, 25-23.
Bureau Valley started out on top of both games but struggled midway through each set as the Annawan Bravettes surged back and took late leads of 19-14 and 19-15.
After trailing by five late in the first set Bosnich called a timeout to calm her squad down which gave the offense the charge they needed for the final stretch of the set.
The Storm went on an 11-4 run to hold off the Bravettes 25-23.
Highlighting the run were aces by senior middle hitter Lindsey Hoffert to take a 23-22 lead and senior outside hitter Val Reuter's game-winner that ricocheted off a Bravette defender for the 25-23 victory.
“Val is an all-around strong player. Last year as a junior we struggled to find the best place for her, and we moved her to just lbero. We moved her to the front row (this year) because she wasn’t OK just playing in the back row, and she definitely proved that tonight,” Bosnich said. “She came in for some big kills and was our kill leader and she is just a strong player all around. I know when she goes to the line she has a tough serve and we’re very lucky for that.”
The second set went much the same as the first as BV scored five straight points on the service of senior setter Sydney Lebahn to start the match.
BV allowed the Bravettes to take control of the second set 19-15 but a noticeable buzz was building in the gym with each play and each Storm point.
The energy the Storm started playing with on the court seemingly energized the crowd and in-turn the home crowd reciprocated the energy to the players from the stands.
Once again after a late surge Reuter stood on the end line with a 24-23 lead and the ball in her hand, this time she would need help from her teammates to finish out theset.
The home crowd wouldn’t be disappointed as Lebahn settled under a Bravettes return shot and appeared to be setting a teammate up for kill. Instead, she spotted an open area in the back left court of the Bravettes' defense and sent a tip shot for the set and match victory
“We’ve kind of moved some things around and have let Sydney Lebahn hit as well and she’s done a great job with that," Bosnich said. "She’s a very, very strong leader that we’ve had for four years as a starter, and she just gets the job done. The last play of the game she just knew that slot was open in the back corner and just pushed the ball there and got the kill.”
Reuter led the team with four kills and six of the team's 18 digs. Lebahn added four digs and a team-high four aces along with three kills. Carlie Bickett and Heaven Bennett also chipped in three kills each.
Kayla DeMay, Taylor Miller and Taylor Shaw each had three kills with Shaw adding 10 points and seven aces for the Caitlyn (Corwin) DeMay coached Bravettes.
Bosnich said her team attitude and work ethic is something the girls just have and bring to the court on a daily basis.
Although she is happy with the out come of the match, Bosnich, like any coach, sees room for improvement and is already mentally preparing for their next opponents.
“I had a lot of strong net play tonight but we need to work a little more on blocking. I thought we did a nice job but I know that we are better than that so we’ll really work on blocking that this week so we’ll be ready for next week,” Bosnich said.
• BV also won the F/S match 29-27, 25-22.