Coming off an outstanding regular season and a disappointing post-season in 2007, the Bismarck-Henning volleyball team entered the 2008 season energized but minus four key starters in Matti Nesbitt, Kerri Roach, Anna Rush and Callie Wagoner.

The Blue Devils took the first step in moving forward into a new era with a hard fought 25-23, 25-20 victory over the Danville Vikings.

“We worked through our nerves tonight,” Bismarck-Henning senior Kristen Tuggle said. “I was just glad to get out and play.’’

In the first set, there were nine ties before Bismarck-Henning pulled out a 25-23 win.

“I thought we came out well and got out to a good 14-9 lead but then got a little complacent,’’ Bismarck-Henning coach Susan Kentner said. “We have been practicing for two solid weeks and everyone was ready to play. Everyone had a lot of adrenaline going early and we were a little nervous since it was the first game.’’

Danville (1-1) took a 16-14 lead in the opening set with a 7-0 run on the serve of McKenzie Hodges.

Coming off a Wednesday win at Westville, it was a night of missed chances for the Vikings.

“We had our opportunities tonight and missed serves late in the game,’’ Danville coach Steve Houghton said. “You can’t do that in close games. It’s like a gift to the other team.

“These two teams are very familiar with each other, there was a nice crowd here, but we had breakdowns with basic skills. You can’t make mistakes like that when you play teams like Bismarck. It was a status quo night for us instead of moving forward after the win at Westville.’’

The final tie of the first set was at 22-22 before the Blue Devils took three of the last four points.

Moving to the younger line-up that had great success the night before, the Vikings shot out to a 19-11 lead in the second set before the Blue Devils rallied behind the serving of Casie McCorkle to tie things at 20-20.

“We have always been a comeback team,’’ Tuggle said. “Everyone picked their game up.’’

Kentner said it was a great team

effort.

“Everyone contributed,’’ she said. “It was great to have such success with McCorkle serving, and I had seen the line-up change in their game at Westville, so we were ready for that and able to adjust to it.’’

The Blue Devils would take the last five points to win the set 25-20.

“Courage is how you deal with fear and we didn’t respond to the pressure tonight,’’ Houghton said. “Hopefully we can learn from that. We have a lot of young players and we will get better each game.’’

Bethany Ziegler led the Vikings with eight digs while Morgan King added seven in only one set of action.

Next up for the Vikings is the Champaign Centennial Invitational on

Saturday.

Allison Baker and Tuggle had six digs each for the Blue Devils with Tuggle adding three kills.

Jenni Free had 10 assists with Hannah Ohl adding seven assists and five kills.

“We had to come back in both sets and it’s great to see your team look at a lead and not give up,’’ Kentner said.

The Blue Devils return to action at home next Thursday with their Vermilion Valley Conference opener against the Hoopeston Area Cornjerkers.

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