State Volleyball: Bergan ends Bulldogs’ run
Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family struggled against a powerful Fremont Bergan offense, found little space against the Lady Knights intimidating block and saw its magical run at the state volleyball tournament come to a close Saturday afternoon at the Devaney Center.
Bergan controlled every aspect of the game while taking the Class D-1 state championship in a three-set sweep (25-15, 25-18 and 25-14). HLHF finished the season 29-5 and one win short of its first-ever volleyball state championship.
The Lady Knights commanded the net with a 43-25 advantage in kills, controlled the beginning of most points with eight service aces and, while only holding a 5-4 advantage in blocks, tipped or deflected most Bulldog shots, severely limiting what HLHF could accomplish offensively.
Lexie Langley and Allie DeGroff collected double-digit kills for a Bergan team that had six players with at least one kill.
Taya Beller was tops for HLHF with eight kills. The Bulldogs also produced six players with at least one kill, but also hit just .100 for the match.
Their hitting efficiency was negative for most of the match, finally rising above .000 late in the second. They finished at a rate of .100 compared to .300 for the Lady Knights.
“Their blocking in the first set really shut our hitters down a little bit and made us a little intimidated. They never stopped swinging. When they did, they were great at putting a tip right where we weren’t,” coach Cami Oelsligle said. “They’re just very smart attackers. I think defensively, we didn’t play our top game. That’s where we might have had a little advantage on them, but we didn’t show that today.”
Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family never led at any point during the match and faced deficits as large as 14 points in the first set, nine in the second and 11 again on the final point of the match.
A two-point hole at 16-14 in the third set was the closest the Bulldogs ever came at any point once the Lady Knights reached the 10-point mark.
“They really just picked us apart,” Oelsligle said. “We needed some confidence to come, and it just never really happened.”
To complicate things more, when Beller had little success hitting, and the Bergan serving was eating up the HLHF back line, Oelsligle was forced to juggle the lineup and try something new.
Those players, such as sophomore Lexi Frauendorfer, helped shore up the defense, but the offense remained disjointed.
The longest the Bulldogs held serve was five points near the end of the first set. They had 12 runs of multiple points and 15 first-ball sideouts (FBSO), immediately giving it back to a potent Lady Knights group that had five runs of four points or more during the match and only suffered nine FBSOs
“You never want to pull out your best players. You never want that to happen because it’s hard, especially coming from a player’s perspective. You want to try and work through those things,” Oelsligle said. “But at the same time, when you have 14 girls, they’re there for a reason. I think the ones we pulled off the bench did a nice job of coming in, stepping up and doing what we asked them to do.”
Trouble was eminent early when two of the first five Bergan points were blocks and Oelsligle was forced to use a timeout down 8-3.
Beller’s block out of the timeout stopped the momentum run but the Lady Knights won nine of the next 12 and forced another timeout up 18-7.
It appeared HLHF began to find a rhythm late with a Beller kill, call on Bergan for a lift, net violation, hitting error and Dani Brandl kill, but it all came too late.
Bergan then jumped out to a 6-2 lead in the second set and quickly ended whatever positive vibes that run may have created. The Lady Knights won five of six after another timeout and took control of the set 11-3.
The third started with a 7-5 Bergan advantage that became 10-5. Up 15-10, the Lady Knights were finally forced to call for their own timeout when a hitting error, Brandl kill and Beller kill closed the gap to 15-13.
Bergan went 10-1 the rest of the way and celebrated its first state volleyball championship after title game losses in 1988 and 2004.
“I felt like the girls were pretty calm. They didn’t seem too nervous. I think they were just frustrated because they weren’t playing the way they knew they could,” Oelsligle said. “We’ve seen better, and it just wasn’t there.”
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com