Lady Bobcats eliminated by New BuffaloPublished 10:40am Friday, November 6, 2009
By DON EDEN
Niles Daily Star
WATERVLIET – A couple of young volleyball squads with only one senior starter apiece met for the Class C District championship Thursday evening as New Buffalo wore the crown after beating Brandywine.
The Lady Bison won the first two games by identical 25-17 scores and came from behind in the fourth game with a 26-24 victory after being outscored 25-20 in the third set.
New Buffalo (18-19) tallied the first six points with junior Eva Balich being the beneficiary as the server with classmate April Lowe and senior Alexandra Briatta doing most of the damage at the net. Balich was back behind the line serving when the lead grew to 18-8 for the biggest advantage by either team throughout the contest.
Brandywine (12-17) had three one point leads after a trio of singles to begin the second game, but after the score was tied at five apiece Briatta’s jump serve became the thorn for the Lady Bobcats. Briatta had the final four points and seven overall to lead the second game win for New Buffalo.
“We split two tournaments during the regular season with Brandywine, but we probably surprised them with more speed on our serves in this game,” commented New Buffalo coach Josie Whitsel. “They fought back though and played hard, but we are playing like a team better all the time with the best yet to come.”
Junior Lauren Leonard and freshman Jessica Cooper of Brandywine each tallied four consecutive points early in the third game and a serve by junior Kelsey Prestly put the Lady Bobcats lead to 14-5 for a comfortable advantage. Balich and sophomore Lena Madison each served a trio of tallies though to bring New Buffalo back 18-17 before Bobcat senior Kaley Jones would seal the game with the final two points.
“We didn’t play our best early so didn’t play our hardest probably thinking we could win,” stated Brandywine captain Kaley Jones.
Madison, Briatta and junior Korbi Forker led New Buffalo to a 15-9 lead in the fourth game, before the gallant Lady Bobcats came back with determination as Cooper and Prestly each forced Whitsel to call timeout while serving. Prestly gave the Lady Bobcats a 22-20 lead late and were ahead 24-23, but couldn’t prevail on the vital final point.
The busload of New Buffalo students woke up as Forker served the final points to the dismay of the loyal Bobcat followers.
“New Buffalo came out ready to play and played good to earn it,” said a dejected Brandywine coach Nikki Cooper. “I am disappointed that this wasn’t our strongest performance but we ended strongly.”
The player Cooper still has three more years to shine and led Brandywine with 15 assists and three aces, while Jones had 13 helpers and a pair of well placed serves. Prestly again showed her prowess at the net with 13 kills as did Leonard knocking down eight daggers with three aces.
“It is very tough to lose after playing on weak teams as this is the strongest team I have ever played on,” concluded Jones, who is going to miss high school and especially volleyball. “I am very proud of the program to come a long way and expect a lot from them in the next couple years.”
Briatta continues to play for New Buffalo after achieving 18 digs with 13 kills for the victors with Lowe also reaching double figures in kills with 10. Balich had 27 assists in the victory.
“This has been a fabulous week for us so I hope we can keep it going,” expressed Whitsel, who added after finding out his next foe is defending state champion Schoolcraft. We have our work cut out for us don’t we.”