VOLLEYBALL: Beecher pulls ahead late to top St. Anne
ST. ANNE — After a sluggish start to Tuesday’s home River Valley Conference matchup with Beecher, St. Anne looked like a completely different team in set No. 2, giving fans an early season gem of a match when it forced a third set.
By the time the dust settled, Beecher’s dominating net-front presence of Madison Irwin, A.J. Picicco and Kaylie Sippel proved too much for the Cardinals to handle, as Beecher escaped with a 2-1 victory (25-10, 21-25, 25-19).
Beecher coach Emily Doersam said the mid-match struggles were to be expected, but she was glad to see her team bounce back and preserve the win.
“Tonight was more about building our team and working on different things,” Doersam said. “That second set, I worked on a different rotation, bringing some girls up to fill some spots to see what works best for our team and what we can pull through.
“Whether we win a game or lose a game, I just want to see what works best.”
The Bobcats got off to a sensational start in the first set, dominating both at the net and in the back row, jetting out to a lightning-fast 16-4 lead before eventually taking the first set 25-10.
Cardinals coach Zach Kirkland said Tuesday’s start was similar to many starts against Beecher during the years — handling serves.
“Game 1, it was literally just that we got stuck in rotation and couldn’t pass the ball,” Kirkland said. “Service handling against Beecher, for some reason, is always our toughest thing that we struggle with.”
But the Cardinals picked it up in Game 2. Whether it was a strong serve game, led by Kendall Yuknis and her two aces, or the Cardinals’ attack, led by Brandi Chase’s 12 kills and Lauren Emerson’s 18 assists, the Cardinals clicked as a team in that second set.
“Game 2, we served that ball, attacked tough and played defense,” Kirkland said. “The good thing that I saw was we were attacking both the front row and the back row, as opposed to just easy passes for no reason at all.”
The Cardinals continued their crisp play into the third set, and the Bobcats also returned to the prowess they possessed in the first set. The Bobcats railed off seven straight points to go up 12-4, but the Cardinals rebounded and eventually cut their deficit to 19-15 before the Bobcats finished the job.
For Doersam, Tuesday’s finish was about the parts of her team working together as one solid group, a group she has excitement for as the year begins.
“We have strong hitters; we have strong servers; our defense is good; all around, we have good players, I believe,” Doersam said. “There are things we need to work on, but that’s what we’re doing; we fill those spots and keep pushing.”
The Bobcats got 11 kills from Irwin and nine kills from Picicco. Irwin added five digs and an ace, and Picicco had three aces, seven digs and a block.
Setter Kaylie Sippel was setting up the Bobcats’ hitters all night, finishing with 22 assists to go along with four kills, four digs, a block and an ace.
Irwin said while the team got solid play elsewhere (libero Margaret Landis had 12 digs and two aces), the net-front presence the Bobcats have can be a problem for opposing teams this season.
“We can be really good together; we were kind of off tonight, but I call us the triple threat,” Irwin said. “We’re pretty good together and work pretty well.”
The Bobcats host Grant Park today, and the Cardinals travel to Donovan on Thursday.