Lady Spartans split final two conference matches

By Dan Karpiel

The Surveyor

“We talked about how it’s not how you start, it’s truly how you finish, and right now we’re on track,” said Berthoud High School (BHS) head volleyball coach, Mil Santos.

While Santos was speaking after Berthoud’s Tri-Valley Conference (TVC) season finale – a match his Lady Spartans lost in five sets, 25-14, 25-27, 17-25, 25-19, 15-9, to rival Windsor on Tuesday evening in the BHS gym – the coach’s point was not at all without merit as Berthoud concluded their conference schedule as winners in four of their final five.

Berthoud entered the contest with Windsor having not lost a single set in their previous four matches, most recently a 3-0 sweep of Frederick (25-19, 25-18, 27-25) last Thursday at BHS. But Tuesday’s match provided a more formidable opponent.

The Lady Spartans superstar senior, outside hitter Julie Ward, entered her final match on her home court playing at the pinnacle of her All-State form, tallying one kill after another as Berthoud raced out to an early lead.

Ward finished the night with a season-high 28 kills. “She is one that sparks us, we know if we need a point, we certainly go to her, she’s really our go-to player,” Santos said of Ward.

Multiple kills from Ward, along with kills from Cas Berry and Kailey Berry and aces from Teagan Holmes and Sophie Kathol saw Berthoud build and hold a double-digit lead for much of the set. Holmes’ ace put the match at 23-10 in home team’s favor and a final kill from Ward pushed it to 24-10. Windsor subsequently assembled a four-point run, but their attack attempt for a fifth-straight point fell short and into the net to give Berthoud the 25-14 win.

Emerging from what might have been their best single set of their 2017 season, especially considering the opponent, Berthoud stayed true to their approach. The Lady Spartans remained aggressive with their attack; with Ward, Holmes, Abi Lutz and Trinity Penny all tallying kills. Yet Berthoud could not push their lead beyond three points thanks to an improved Windsor defense. Windsor caught up and, after a block from Holmes and Kailey Berry, knotted the match at 25-all. The Lady Wizards scored the final two points and won the match by blocking a Ward attack.

Even though Berthoud won the third set – four- and five-point runs with Ward and Kailey Berry serving, respectively, were huge – it was clear Windsor had keyed-in on Ward’s attack, from wherever on the floor it came, and worked to mitigate the damage.

“We try to mix it up as much as we can, but there were a couple times where Julie got blocked and that’s due to the fact that we went too much to her and did not mix it up enough,” Santos said. “Windsor is a great ball-control team, and that’s frustrating because when any other time you put a ball down that hard it should be a kill but they picked up just about everything so that kind of affected us as well.”

In the fourth and fifth sets, both of which went in Windsor’s favor, Berthoud was too often out of position and occasionally caught flat-footed defensively. Windsor slowly but surely built and took leads in both sets they would not relinquish. Offensively, Berthoud was unable to assemble the multi-point scoring runs they had in the first three sets.

 

“I think we got kind of frustrated with ourselves,” Lutz said of the decisive fourth and fifth sets. “I think sometimes we gave up maybe a block or were not seeing the next step, we were just waiting for it to come to us.”

In the decisive fifth set, Berthoud was never able to get into a rhythm, falling behind 4-0, then 6-2, then 8-4 as Windsor’s block mitigated the Lady Spartans attack from wherever and from whomever it came. The Lady Wizards were able to get soft and hard kills and took advantage of Berthoud’s mistakes to win the match-clinching the final set 15-9.

“We always talk about situational volleyball, and that was certainly situational, particularly in that last set and we just didn’t execute as well as we wanted to,” Santos said.

Despite dropping their final home game, Berthoud believes they are poised to make a run at the postseason. As Lutz explained, “We’ve become more of a team, we’ve communicated better, we’ve really jelled, we’re working together real well.”

Berthoud (10-9, 8-6 TVC) entered Tuesday ranked No. 30 in 4A RPI and will close out the regular season at the annual Golden Tournament. A solid showing there will earn the Lady Spartans a spot in regionals where, with two victories, the team will have a chance to make their fourth-consecutive trip to the state tourney.

 

Tags: ,