ST. ANNE — Beecher never trailed in its season-opening, two-set win against River Valley Conference rival St. Anne, but that doesn’t mean the Cardinals made things easy for them.
A bit of early-season rust and an impressive push down the stretch from St. Anne in the second set kept things interesting, but the Bobcats ultimately were able to prevail 25-19, 25-23 to kickstart their 2019 campaign with a 1-0 record both overall and in RVC play.
The rival squads traded points to start their respective seasons and seesawed their way to a 5-5 tie in the opening set before the Bobcats really hit their stride when a sudden 14-3 run, boosting the visitors’ lead to 19-8.
Beecher lost a bit of momentum as the set wound down but still snagged a fairly comfortable 25-19 win. The second set, however, was anything but cozy.
The ‘Cats started off on at a nice pace in the latter set and dashed out to a 13-4 lead. Unfortunately, inconsistency reared its ugly head once again as the Cardinals put together an intense rally with their backs to the wall.
A 19-10 swing allowed St. Anne to tie things at 23 and ratchet up the heat in the final seconds of the second set. Beecher finally was able to reset itself and nail down the final two points and secure the win, but avoiding such a tight spot in the first place will be an obvious priority as the season advances.
“We still have a lot of work to do. I’m still seeing what works, what doesn’t and what we need to do this year. This was a good eye-opener for the first game of the season,” Beecher coach Emily Doersam said. “Yes, we came away with a win, but there were a lot of things we need to work on.
“We need to have leaders step up out there on the floor, keep our heads in the game and have better communication,” she added. “We just kind of fell apart there at the end.”
The Cardinals will begin the season in a 0-1 hole, but they still have plenty of positives to take away from their showing against the rival Bobcats.
“It was the first match of the year, and you could really tell. During the first 15 points of both sets, we were committing error after error and struggling with the mental stuff that’s tough to simulate in practice,” said head coach Zach Kirkland. “Once they got into the flow of the game and once we got moving and attacking the ball, things got better, and our crowd did a nice job of keeping us in it. It was just a matter of making those plays when we needed to make them.
“I was glad to get back into it at 23-23, but its difficult to win a match when you give yourself a 10-point deficit in both games,” he added. “Any time you have a team like Beecher and you give them free balls or easy roll shots from your front-row hits, they’re going to be able to come back at you with their best hitter every single time.”
Kaylie Sippel and Kylie Hodac each had five blocks for the Bobcats. Sippel added six assists, eight digs and two blocks, and Hodac added an ace and two digs. Margaret Landis had 10 digs and an assist. Rhiannon Saller had four kills and three blocks.
St. Anne’s Brandi Chase led all players with seven kills and added six assists and three blocks. Grace Langellier had four kills, an ace and three digs. Emily Greene had six digs, and Taylor DeYoung had nine assists.
Beecher will resume action at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday on the road against Illinois Lutheran. The Cardinals will try to notch their first win of the season when they travel to Donovan to take on the Wildcats at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.