Volleyball: St. Bede def. Bureau Valley 25-21, 25-17
PERU — St. Bede Academy's Abbot Vincent Gymnasium is well known for being an overly warm room to compete in, to put it mildly. Bruins athletes seem to take pride in it, while their opponents dread it and make extra preparations for it.
So when the Bureau Valley Storm girls volleyball team came to visit the Lady Bruins, the atmosphere became even more heated, even with the gym windows open and a big fan moving air across the court.
What followed was an exciting two sets of give and take play from which St. Bede prevailed to grind out a 25-21, 25-17 win.
"I looked over (at the scoreboard) and was surprised the game was as close as it was," Lady Bruins coach Karrie Damerell said. "I thought it was a really slow paced game at the beginning, but I'm glad we were able to bounce back, and I thought we played okay."
Something that helped the Lady Bruins in particular was improved blocking at the net, especially against BV's offensive standout Saige Barnett, who still made seven kills for the evening.
"She's (Barnett) an aggressive hitter and we know what she's capable of," Damerell said. "I think we defended her well in the beginning, with Hallie (McGuire) getting some key blocks."
"As far as our side, it's good to be a force at the net and make their hitters question what they're doing a little bit, because they know the block is there."
For her part, McGuire led the Lady Bruins in kills (16) and contributed 10 of the team's total 64 digs.
"I think we played well," McGuire said. "I think we needed to put the ball away more in the first set, but it was a good start of our last home week, and we're still improving for regionals."
Payton Linnig led St. Bede in digs with 13, with help in the back court by McGuire, Macy Bosnich (11), and Heidi Story (10). Elaina Wamhoff led in assists with 28.
The lead switched frequently in the first set until BV went on a 5-0 run with libero Marissa Endress at serve to give them a 13-10 advantage. She would also be at serve for another short run in the second set.
Both teams would come back from deficits to ties of 16-16 and 19-19 before St. Bede pulled ahead to stay for the first set win.
"We were slow in the beginning to get going," Lady Bruins senior Carly Eustice said. "But once we get a rhythm going we can take it away. If we get in a rut she (Coach Damerell) knows we can pick ourselves back up again."
The Storm was in the driver's seat early in the second match but once the Lady Bruins got the score up to a 6-6 tie, they pulled ahead and BV never saw the lead again for the rest for the evening.
Still, BV coach Caitlyn DeMay had no complaints on her team's performance.
"I thought we played fine and executed what we needed to do," she said. "We just need to limit our mistakes and move forward.
"Our defense is pretty good, our blocking is strong, so we're looking forward to the rest of the season and post-season."
St. Bede (21-5, 7-2) next hosts a conference match with Erie-Prophetstown Thursday, while the Storm (10-12, 5-5) head to Prouty Gym Thursday night for a conference game against the Princeton Tigresses.