VOLLEYBALL: Boilers pass first test, down Sycamore
BRADLEY — Playing deep into October is Bradley-Bourbonnais’ goal this season.
But it has to take care of business in August and September first, and the Boilers got off to a good start by taking down Sycamore in straight sets 25-23 and 25-22 on Tuesday.
“It was a good way to start the season,” Bradley-Bourbonnais coach Kary Dowling said. “We’re entertaining to watch, but from a coach’s viewpoint, we have a lot of things to work on, but it’s the first game, and I’m sure the jitters were there.”
Seven ties and five lead changes took center stage in the opening set, as both teams jockeyed for the upper hand.
Bradley-Bourbonnais took the final lead change at 13-12 but wasn’t out of the woods just yet. Leading 21-17, a couple of mistakes allowed the Spartans to close the gap and tie the game at 23, but the Boilers showed some poise with the final two points for the victory.
“Our serving was really weak and inconsistent in the first set,” Dowling said. “We’ve been pushing the girls to hit zones, but we weren’t the team that I saw in practice the other day in terms of serving. It’s an area we have to improve upon, as well as our serve receive.”
Much of the same continued into the second set. Both teams maintained a back-and-forth effort, waiting to see which team cracked first.
It seemed to be Sycamore, as it found itself trailing 14-10, but it tied the game at 20-20 before Liz Schriner stepped back to serve.
Schriner’s jumping serve is a thing of beauty to watch, and it made all the difference to close out the match.
She served an ace to take a 21-20 lead and served all the way to 24-20 before Chloe Memenga’s kill sealed the envelope.
“Overall, I was impressed by how we finished the match,” Dowling said. “We have some holes that we’re working through, and our serve receive was a little questionable. We had to come from behind in both sets, but I just relaxed and let them to do their thing.”
Walking in a forest
Opposing teams will realize quickly one thing about the Boilers once they walk in the gym: Height is not an issue.
With an average team height of 5-foot-10, including seven players 5-foot-10 or taller, with three girls eclipsing the 6-foot-1 mark, registering kills won’t be an easy thing to do against the Boilers.
That height advantage was on display Monday with Allie Scheiwiller, Mallory Jansuki and Memenga logging a number of blocks.
“We do have an abundance of height,” Dowling said. “Mallory and Allie being around 6-foot-2 and Courtney Hunter at 6-foot-1 getting some playing time is great. We’re not super fast in the back row, so we have to use that height to get blocks across the net.
That 6-foot-2 frame of Januski came in to play and showed to be a huge difference, especially in the first set.
With her team needing a boost, she came through with a couple of blocks at the net then turned around with the game tied at 11 and served an ace to give Bradley-Bourbonnais a 12-11 lead.
Later ahead 24-23 with a chance to close the first set out, the junior middle hitter served up her second ace of the game for the win.
“Mallory came on really strong with a number of blocks, and she’s playing really confident,” Dowling said. “We’ve pushed her a lot over the summer in that area. There was a sequence where she had three blocks on one play, and I was really impressed with how she played in the front row.”
Along with Januski, Memenga led the team in kills with six on the night.
Scheiwiller finished with four kills, and Liz Schriner had three kills and three aces. Reece Brown added 15 assists on the night.
Bradley-Bourbonnais hits the road Thursday to take on Joilet West.