BELLBROOK — After a see-saw first-set battle with Southwestern Buckeye League rival Eaton, the host Bellbrook Golden Eagles girls high school volleyball team found its serves, and confidence, to claim a 25-17, 25-13, 27-25 straight-set win Thursday Aug. 31 at Bellbrook High.
That first set may have set the tone for the entire match.
Eaton had the upper hand early on, as they grabbed a 4-3 lead. But then Bellbrook mounted a rally to jump back in front by an 8-4 margin. But Eaton rode the solid serving of junior outside hitter Becca Mowen to a 12-9 lead.
An Eaton net violation stalled the Eagles’ momentum, then kills by Bellbrook junior outside hitter Sara Rogers with solid serves from Mara Neal put the Golden Eagles back up in front, 14-12.
Bellbrook (4-0, 2-0 SWBL Southwestern) stayed in front from that point in the set on, and a misdirection dink from Sydney Krane, followed by an Eaton miscue gave the Golden Eagles the 25-17 first-set win.
From that point on, Bellbrook seemed to get its swagger back. The undefeated two-time defending Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division champions started to hit a barrage of serves from various angles, and the variety was enough to put Eaton on its collective heals for the rest of the match.
“Eaton is our rival. They always bring their ‘A game’ against us,” Bellbrook coach Lynzee Johnson said. “I keep telling my girls, every single game we go into in league, we’re going to have targets on our backs. We’ve been league champs the past couple years, and teams want to beat us. Our girls know that, and today I think we came out of this playing with a lot of confidence.”
Bellbrook serves were soon flying Eaton’s way from all angles. Whether it was the high looping rainbow serves from some of the Golden Eagles players, or the line drive bashes from 5-foot-1o junior Kira Merkle, or the sinker ball overhead serves from Sydney Krane, Eaton didn’t have an answer for them.
“I would say that serving is one of our top strengths,” Johnson said. “When we serve well, we usually play pretty well. When we miss serves, we don’t play as well. But that was one of our best serving games to date.”
At one point in the second set, Krane broke a 3-all tie with four aces — combined with a pair of Merkle blocks and a kill by Sara Rogers — to give Bellbrook the lead for good in that set, 11-3.
Eaton coach Parker Fields wasn’t happy with the team’s play in that second set at all.
“Bellbrook is solid. I think with us, I feel like we controlled the tempo of the game with our errors. We made a lot of errors. It wasn’t clean, we didn’t communicate well enough to play the ball well in serve-receive. Actually, we didn’t communicate well enough to not serve-receive.
“I think we basically gave them the second set. Bellbrook probably had seven or eight serve receive errors in that second set, but we played those balls. … I think it’s just a mental thing with us, when it comes to these guys. I’m happy with the play of my libero, I’m happy with one of my setters and my outsides Becca Mowen and Ariel Richardson played well tonight too. Bellbrook’s good again. They attack the ball from everywhere. We just stood around and watched them play.”
Bellbrook will play in the Lehman Catholic Tournament Saturday, Sept. 2 in Sidney, with games scheduled for 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Eaton, now 4-1 (1-1 in the division) will next host Monroe in another SWBL Southwestern contest at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 5.