Berthoud volleyball notches back-to-back wins

By Dan Karpiel
The Surveyor

As they begin the homestretch of the 2016 season, the Berthoud High School (BHS) volleyball team is rounding into postseason form.

The Lady Spartans won clean sweeps in their last two matches, topping Erie 3-0 (25-20, 25-23, 25-23) on Oct. 6 and then repeating the feat on Oct. 11 with a 3-0 win over Skyline (25-18, 25-19, 25-9). With the wins, Berthoud kept pace with Mead and Holy Family for a three-way tie for first place in the Tri-Valley Conference (TVC).

Berthoud 3, Erie 0

Even playing short-handed – Berthoud was without the services of senior setter Jessa Megenhardt, who was held out of the game with a minor ankle injury – proved to be no problem for the Lady Spartans. It was the first time in her four seasons that Megenhardt was not on the court, a fact that was not lost on Berthoud Head Coach Daisha Agho.

“I was a little nervous about the leadership piece, not that we don’t have leaders on the court, but [Megenhardt] is a huge presence for us out there,” Agho said. “Some players you can’t replace.”

With Megenhardt’s absence, Berthoud Head Coach Daisha Agho played freshman Cas Berry in the critical setter position and continued to employ the team’s traditional 5-1 offensive system. Berry proved equal to the task and filled in more than adequately in Megenhardt’s stead, finishing the night with 36 assists.

“Cas stepped up, did a really good job being able to move the ball around, finding Julie [Ward] when she needed to and really showed some leadership for us when we needed it,” Agho said.

While Berthoud was able to hold a sizable lead through much of the first set – a seven-point rally put the Lady Spartans up 14-6 and a kill from Ward gave BHS the set-winning 25th point – the second two sets were more competitive and Berthoud’s defense did some heavy-lifting to get wins in each set.

The Lady Spartans front row registered 16 blocks in the three sets with Teagan Holmes finishing with six and Shay Pierick with four. “Our block was definitely better tonight which was awesome, we’ve been working on that,” Agho said. Libero Sarah Howard highlighted the emphasis Berthoud places on defense saying, “Defense is something that wins games but we have to work with what we can get, we have a really good communication in the back row and that’s big for us, the team dynamic this year is so much better.”

Ward notched two of her game-high 15 kills to tie the third set at 15 and then give Berthoud their first lead moments later. Berthoud scored the final four points of the match on kills from Ward and Kailey Berry to win the set 25-23. “I feel like just getting our energy up, we just had to come together as a team and we mustered up everything we had and that’s how we got though that third set,” Howard said.

Berthoud 3, Skyline 0

Playing in Longmont on Tuesday night against a last-place Skyline squad that could perhaps be best described as effectively-sloppy provided the Lady Spartans with a unique test. The Lady Falcons are far from the most crisp and disciplined team Berthoud will face this season, but their arcane play style put Berthoud in some situations to which they are not accustomed. Skyline was not always in proper position or communicating effectively, but managed to get the ball over the net in one unorthodox manner or another.

It was a test the Lady Spartans passed and one that pleased their coach. “We had a hard time getting them off-balance and keeping them out of system, granted they’re not the strongest attack team at us, but they throw shots that we usually don’t see so we’re having to be on our toes … it’s actually really good for us, “ Agho said.

“I would say defensive wise we had some trouble picking up some of their balls, we weren’t on our toes ready for all of them,” freshman Trinity Penny explained. “They had some good swings but if we had been in better position we would have been able to get those.”

Megenhardt returned to the court and played the first two sets at her usual elite level, showing no effects from the sprained ankle. Agho explained she wanted to get her usual lineup on the court to get the offensive rhythm back after playing the last five sets without their floor leader. “Nice match to bring Jessa back into action while still recovering from her ankle sprain. We needed this one to be able to get our timing back with the offense,” Agho said.

Skyline fought hard in the first two sets but Berthoud kept their hosts at bay, holding steady leads throughout both sets. Agho gave Megenhardt some rest in the third set and switched to the 6-2 system, using Penny and Cas Berry as setters. The system worked wonderfully for Berthoud as the team cruised to the 25-9 win.

“They executed that perfectly,” Agho said of the 6-2. “I was really excited with how that set went and watched the girls rally around each other to really put on a dominating performance! This team is something phenomenal.”

“It was fun, I was able to relax and just play,” Penny said of her first action as a setter in high school competition. “I’ve been focusing a lot on just doing my best … when you make a mistake it’s hard but you just have to shake it off.”

Berthoud (11-4, 8-2 conf.) will get their chance to exact revenge on Mead (11-4, 8-2 conf.) Thursday night in a matchup of two teams tied for first-place in the TVC.