Raiders swept by Barr-ReeveOctober 15, 2020
By JIMMY LAFAKIS
BLOOMFIELD — When postseason play rolls around, volleyball teams get the chance to showcase the fundamentals of the game. Oftentimes, the seemingly minute facets of the sport loom large during the playoffs.
A battle-tested Barr-Reeve team displayed its attention to detail during Thursday evening’s Sectional 47 contest against Southridge (9-18) at Eastern Greene. Southridge showed resilience in the second and third sets, but Barr-Reeve secured the 25-7, 25-10, 25-12 victory.
“We were playing with a skeleton crew,” Southridge head coach Mande Keusch said. “We knew it was going to be tough. Barr-Reeve was going to be tough if we had everybody. I didn’t have everybody, so we had people playing in positions that they wouldn’t normally play. That’s what we had, and we’ve got to go with what we have.”
After claiming the game’s first five points, the Vikings eventually widened the margin to 11-2. At that point, Southridge called a timeout.
Strong serves from Vikings senior Anna Ballengee created some more distance between the teams. Ballengee, listed as an all-around player on Barr-Reeve’s roster, struck down a bevy of hard kills at the net.
Additionally, stellar serve-receive actions helped the Vikings win the first set.
“They’re solid all the way around,” Keusch said. “We knew that going in. They’re smart players. Whatever defense you’re running doesn’t matter because they can see where you’re at. They can put the ball where you’re not. They’re just versatile that way.”
The Raiders jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the second frame. Southridge handled the Vikings’ quick offensive hits, but Barr-Reeve regrouped and gained a 12-4 advantage.
Vikings senior libero Jasye Thompson encouraged her teammates throughout a subsequent Barr-Reeve run. Southridge dropped the second set, but showed improvement throughout the third frame.
During the game’s final set, the Raiders showed flashes of consistency up front. Passes ran more smoothly throughout the offense.
“When we pass well, we have hitters that can put the ball down,” Keusch said. “We just don’t get that happening enough, especially against a team like that.”
A 13-6 Barr-Reeve advantage blossomed into a 22-11 lead. The Vikings put the game away with a string of consecutive points.
Southridge junior setter Maddy Songer led the Raiders with a team-high nine assists. Facing a robust Barr-Reeve front line, junior middle blocker Myah Montgomery added three kills.
“That’s the team you’re going to have to beat if you want to win sectionals,” Keusch said. “You’re going to have to face them eventually.”
As the Raiders gathered and hugged their teammates, families and friends, Keusch reflected on the unprecedented season.
“We had a lot of good times,” she said. “We struggled more than I thought we would as a team. It was just hard to get consistency because we had girls out here and there. We just had to keep changing lineups and everything. It just made it hard to get something going. You’d start playing well, and then somebody would be out. You’d kind of have to start all over again. That was the hard part of it.”
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