While Bishop Blanchet front-liner Stephanie Augustavo defied gravity for much of Wednesday night’s volleyball match at Bainbridge High School, the Spartans seemed to have a hard time pulling themselves up off the hardwood.
Augustavo repeatedly looked weightless in her kill windup, seemingly floating in front of the net before time caught up with her in a resounding sonic boom of a spike that sent Spartans diving to the floor for digs.
“I don’t know if it was nerves or what,” coach Julie Miller said. “We were very flat the whole night.”
Blanchet opened up the scoring, only to have the combination of Sabrina Tan, Ashley Bice and Michelle Miller even up the game on a textbook Miller kill down the left- side line.
But the Spartans fell prey to miscommunication and inconsistency, and the Braves ran the score up to 9-3 before coach Julie Miller called a time out.
Returning to the court, Blanchet’s Teri Ross sent a stinging shot off Bice’s fist that sailed out of bounds.
Bainbridge regained that point on a Blanchet serve into the net, but Krista Lersch’s kill made the score 11-4 for the Braves.
Bice carried the ball to give the visiting team the serve again, and a subsequent Miller kill attempt sailed out of bounds, bringing the total to 13-4.
Unforced errors gave the Sparts a few points before Merryl Pohl’s high set to Lersch resulted in another Brave tally.
The Spartans squeezed out a bit of offense with Tan’s tip over the net and a Sarah Braun/Tan wall turned a hard Blanchet shot away to bring the score to 15-9, but the Braves answered with an eight-point run.
Tan finally stopped the rally at 23-10 with a well-placed shot that was uncontrollable by the Blanchet backline. Buoyed by the point, and a pair of Braves miscues, the Sparts brought the contest to 23-12. Bice found Miller, and Miller finally found a spot between the lines for a point. Braun added another kill to get Bainbridge to 24-15. Blanchet’s Augustavo and Caitlin Schifferman both sent shots long for Bainbridge points, but Teri Ross pounded a shot that stunned blocker Alexa Seidl for the game point.
Blanchet’s Erica Young started off the next match with a leaping serve into the net for a Bainbridge score, but Tan gave the point back with her serve out of bounds.
Miller blasted an impressive cross-court kill as she was fading away from the net, giving BHS their first lead of the night.
But it was short-lived, as Augustavo elevated for another hard spike that found the Spartan floor. Bainbridge traded points with Blanchet in a series that saw several bright moments for the Sparts: a snappy Miller-to-Bice-back-to-Miller series for a kill and Tan’s well-placed blast that bounced just inches inside the back out-of-bounds line. Unforced Blanchet errors kept the Spartans alive at 9-7, but another Braves run saw six unanswered points and a Bainbridge time-out.
The determined Spartans came back onto the floor and gutted out a nine-point streak, highlighted by three Bice aces and a spectacular dig by Miller that sent the ball back over the net to the Braves. Lersch blasted a return shot for the visitors that was soundly shut down by Braun and Miller.
With the score even at 16, the Sparts and Braves again traded points. But at 25 apiece, Augustavo sent a bullet over the net that deflected wide off of Bainbridge’s Samantha Nelson, and a Spartan shot out of bounds ended the game at 27-25.
Bainbridge saw four quick Blanchet points start the third game before Miller obliterated the ball in a right-down-the-line kill. The Braves’ Schifferman sent a ball long, and another Bice ace brought the Spartans within one.
But Blanchet pulled away again, upping the score to 7-3 before Miller popped a surprise short-windup shot right down the middle for a score. Braun posted an ace for Bainbridge on an unreturnable serve right at Lersch’s head, and a Blanchet double-hit tied the score at 7-7.
The Braves regrouped with a time out and came back to score four more unanswered points, but gave away a pair on unforced errors.
Tan, on a setup from Michelle Baggett and Bice, sent a booming shot cross court that hit the far right corner for a Spartan point.
At 16-12, the Braves pulled away again, stopping only at 21-13 as Pohl’s kill attempt went long.
A Miller kill pinballed off of a pair of Blanchet players before dropping at their feet, but Augustavo and Ross brought the score to 24-16 with a kill and an ace.
Down, but not out, the Spartans got their 17th point on a spirited rally that ended after Ashley Anderson’s tip over the net dropped mid-court. Miller notched three more Bainbridge points, the third on a delicate tip following an amazing set from Braun. Hannah Stuart tipped another one over the net to bring the score to 24-21, when Blanchet called a timeout.
But Bainbridge’s comeback attempt was ill-fated, as Braun’s next serve sailed out of bounds to give the Braves the game point, and the final 3-0 win over the Spartans.
“I know if we worked as hard as we could, I think we’re comparable with that team,” said Miller after the loss. “And I don’t think that happened.”
The Spartans play next against Lakeside at home on Wednesday. JV begins at 4:45 p.m., varsity play starts at 6 p.m.
***JV spikers fall to Blanchet 2-1
The Spartan junior varsity volleyball team split their first two games against Bishop Blanchet, but the Braves came back and squeaked out a 21-19 victory to win two games to one.
Bainbridge played catch-up the first match, and a 6-5 score was as close as they would get to Blanchet. The Spartans began the second game in a hole, as the Braves ran out a six point lead before a service error turned the ball back to Bainbridge. Kills by Tabitha Mabrey and Allison Post put Spartan points on the board, and Molly Donahue’s dead-on serves sparked a six-point streak to tie the game at 11-11.
Bainbridge would only allow two more Blanchet points in the game, and finished at 21-13 to tie up the series.
The Braves and Spartans were evenly matched in the third game, until three quick errors by the home team tipped the scales in Blanchet’s favor.
Rallying after a time out, Bainbridge scored four unanswered points to bring the score to 16-12. After a Dietz tip-over, Blanchet kills by Laura Koszarek, Elizabeth Vaughn and Sarah Vanderberg, and a Spartan serve into the net, Bainbridge was down by six.
The Sparts weren’t quite done yet, and launched a six point crusade to bring the totals to 20-19, but Marijke Smith and Allison Post couldn’t block Kelli Noebel’s kill for the Braves win.
Aksana Singer had eight assists for the Spartans, Smith had five kills and two blocks, Linsdey Bratonia had six kills and four digs, Mabrey totaled nine kills, Donahue was 13-for-13 serving with six aces, Dietz recorded four kills and three digs, and Post notched 17 assists.