Berthoud volleyball dominates in season opener

By Dan Karpiel
The Surveyor

If the Berthoud High School (BHS) volleyball team had any jitters before their opening game of the season, they certainly didn’t show it.

The Lady Spartans easily dispatched 5A Greeley West in straight sets (25-14, 25-14, 25-11), notching their first win of the year and serving notice that Berthoud will be a force to be reckoned with.

“I think I was more nervous for this game than the girls were,” Berthoud head coach Daisha Agho said with a laugh. “I’m excited for their mentality, and the jitters didn’t seem to be there that much, we just went out and, yeah, looked like midseason. Overall I’m very happy.”

The longest rally Berthoud allowed their guests to assemble was just four points, which came at the beginning of the third set. Routinely throughout the night the Lady Spartans allowed Greeley West to score on only one- and two-point rallies before a side out returned the serve to Berthoud. The defensive prowess Berthoud displayed – with seven players recording at least four digs – was complimented by a powerhouse attack that tallied 34 kills and a serve that registered 12 aces in the match’s three sets.

“We were able to put ourselves back into offense, we call it in-system, so we had all three positions on the net and could include the back row too,” Agho explained. “We’ve got so many options it’s tough for anybody to put a rally together against that.”

After emerging from a timeout trailing 11-3 in the first set, it appeared as if Greeley West had found a soft spot in the right side of the Berthoud defense. Yet several serving errors and a lack of communication prevented West from being able take advantage, and by the time Berthoud adjusted their defensive alignment to counter, the visitors had only narrowed their deficit by two points and still trailed, 14-8.

Asked after the game about the adjustment Berthoud made, Agho explained, “We just switched our defense, slid them over. We decided to pull Sophie [Kathol] up so she could take those instead of having to cover the whole line, and that made it a different look for [Greeley West].”

With the score knotted at 8-8 in the second set, another savvy move and some textbook execution put Berthoud back in control. Holding the serve, Berthoud’s Jessa Megenhardt scored three consecutive aces as part of a six-point rally to give her Lady Spartans a 14-8 lead. Just one point later, Berthoud assembled another four-point rally that was punctuated by a kill from junior outside Julie Ward to make the score 18-9 in the Lady Spartan’s favor.

“We were looking at one of the girls, she wasn’t playing serve receive very well so we just kept making her move back and forth so she had to keep thinking about it,” Megenhardt replied when asked about her approach in scoring the three-straight aces. The senior setter finished the night with 23 assists, nine digs, five aces, four kills, and a block that gave her team the winning 25th point in the first set.

After spotting West an early 4-3 lead in the third set, Berthoud clamped down, out-scoring their opponents 18-7 the rest of the way with Ward’s team-high 11th kill marking the 25th point and putting an exclamation point on Berthoud’s victory.

Senior Sarah Howard handled the libero spot for Berthoud and looked comfortable throughout the match.

“Her tenacity and her ability to lead back there is huge … she will make a play and that’s the kind of kid I need back there,” Agho said.

A pair of freshman – Kathol and Teagan Holmes – also appeared at ease in the first match of their high school careers. “It was their first game, and it was a home game, but what jitters there were, were gone in the first few points, they just did awesome,” Megenhardt said of her young teammates.

Agho agreed and singled out Kathol for praise.

“She did a nice job in the front row; you couldn’t even tell she was a freshman,” Agho said.

Berthoud travels to Denver to compete in the Regis Tournament on Sept. 2 and 3 for their next matches. After opening their Tri-Valley Conference schedule with trips to Holy Family (Sept. 6) and Erie (Sept. 8), the Lady Spartans will host Mead for their next home game on Sept. 15.