BY AARON PATTERSON email@example.com
---- — GEORGETOWN — For the first time in nearly a decade, the Bismarck-Henning Blue Devils volleyball team found itself in unfamiliar territory on the last day of the Vermilion County tournament.
It had almost been a given that the Blue Devils would be penciled into the championship match, but it simply wasn’t meant to be this year. So while no excuses might be granted, the Blue Devils might have been excused if they entered Monday’s third-place match a bit anxious.
All they needed was a little patience. And that’s all it took for them to defeat the Oakwood Comets 25-21, 25-22 in come-from-behind fashion to take third place.
“They were devastated on Saturday,” Bismarck-Henning coach Susan Kentner said. “They were going through the grieving process during the Hoopeston match when it went three. Just trying to get them to play through it was a lot of character for them. No team wants to be that one (to end the title winning streak). They were just so devastated and I am so happy for them coming from behind to get a win.”
Oakwood led Bismarck-Henning 20-15 in the first set before sophomore Lindsey Andrews helped lead the Blue Devils on a 10-1 run to take the first set and set the tone for the remainder of the match.
Andrews served the final eight points of the set when she recorded two of her match-high five aces.
While she paced the offensive side, Kentner realized the match would be won or lost at the net with Oakwood junior Peyton Jones keeping the Blue Devils honest. Jones finished the match with six kills and four blocks, but Bismarck-Henning was able to display enough patience to secure the win.
“Patience, not only making sure we’re passing well and setting and getting hits, but patience on the block,” Kentner said. “Peyton will go up over you, so you’ve got to be patient. At least get a touch on it to slow it down. That’s a big thing. Patience and understanding that one mistake does not define you, and to continue to just chip away and play as hard as you can.”
Andrews also had a team-high nine digs and two blocks, while Mary Bass had eight kills. Maddie Winkler also finished with a match-high 19 assists.
Oakwood tied the second set at 17-17, and later pulled to within 24-23.
“I don’t know, were we just relaxed and made a few mistakes and then that was mental,” Oakwood coach Lynn Anderson said. “We weren’t moving. That’s what I told them. I said, ‘You’re not moving. I don’t know what you’re thinking, but you’re mental toughness — mental over feet. Move your feet.”
Sadie Edwards finished with 14 assists for the Comets while Tayler Obenland and Jones each had six kills. Abbie Knight recorded 13 digs.
Bismarck-Henning’s wasn’t the only come-from-behind effort Monday night. The Westville Tigers battled back from an early deficit to defeat the Hoopeston Area Cornjerkers 25-23, 25-23 for fifth place.
“Well, for one, it takes a lot of confidence,” Westville coach Anna Picklesimer said. “You have to have confidence in yourself, and you have to have confidence in your teammates. That’s really what we’ve been pushing all season.
“There were a couple of times I wanted to call a time out, but I knew that if I gave them their time, they would come up and pull it out.”