The Bret Harte High School volleyball team desperately needed a win and had to go five sets in order to pick one up. Heading into the third and final round of Mother Lode League play, Bret Harte and Summerville were tied for third place with an identical 5-5 record.
The two third-place teams battled Monday night in a game that was supposed to be played Oct. 10, but was postponed due to the power outages. Even though the Bullfrogs had to go the distance, they still accomplished what they set out to do and that’s beat the Bears (22-25, 29-27, 20-25, 27-25, 15-13) Monday night in Angels Camp
“At the start of the night, things weren’t looking good,” Bret Harte’s first-year head coach Jacey Porovich said. “We made some changes and threw some variations out there and it impressed me that all the girls pulled together. It was a total team effort. They struggled to get going tonight and once they were outside of their normal comfort zone, they were forced to trust each other and that’s when things started to turn around.”
Bret Harte won the first meeting between the two teams with a 3-0 sweep and Summerville responded with a 3-0 sweep of its own. In the rubber match, both teams wanted to prove a point early. The Bears and Bullfrogs stayed close on the scoreboard in the opening set, but with things tied 15-15, Summerville went on a 5-0 run to get some separation. With the score 24-17 in favor of the Bears, Bret Harte finally put together a strong run. After three Summerville hits went into the net and two kills from junior Mikenna Grotto, Bret Harte trailed only by two, but couldn't get any closer and lost 22-25.
Porovich could tell that her team was off and she believed that the day of the week had something to do with it.
“During my first time out of the night I said, ‘It feels like a Monday,’” Porovich said. “We talked about instead of having it feel like a Monday, have it feel like a Friday when you are choosing to do something fun and celebrate. But the chaos of the end of the week last week and then coming into the start of the third round of league play on a Monday, kind of threw things off.”
The Monday blues continued into the second set, as Summerville jumped out to a 5-0 lead. Junior Emma Lane got the Bullfrogs on the board with back-to-back serving aces and after two Summerville miscues, Bret Harte trailed by just one.
No matter how close the Bullfrogs got, they just weren’t able to take the lead, even after a powerful kill from Grotto and a block by junior Jaden Arias. Summerville needed just one more point to put the game away and trailing 24-19, Bret Harte knew it had to do something drastic.
After a Summerville ball hit net, Bret Harte got a kill from senior Eden Strauch, an ace from junior Bianca Rael, a kill from Arias and a point via Summerville error and after a 5-0 run, tied the game 24-24. Neither team could put the other away until, with things tied at 27-27, Lane and senior co-captain Katrina Swift recorded points to give Bret Harte a 29-27 win.
“It was definitely a big confidence boost and it gave us a lot of adrenaline heading into that third set,” Strauch said about winning the second set.
The Bullfrogs couldn’t carry their good momentum into the third set and reverted back to the way they played to begin the night. Trailing 12-11, the Bullfrogs gave up five unanswered points and could not recover. Summerville took the third set 25-20 and was one set away from winning it all.
“We just needed to kick it old school and get back to the basics,” Porovich said about heading into the fourth set.
In the fourth set, neither team had more than a three-point lead over the other. Just like in the second set, Summerville got within one-point of ending it all. Trailing 24-22, Bret Harte stayed alive as a Summerville hit sailed out of bounds. Grotto tied things at 24-24 with a serving ace to keep her team alive. Trailing 25-24, Bret Harte ended the set with a 3-0 run, which featured a powerful kill from Lane, a serving ace from Strauch and another kill from Lane to give the Bullfrogs a 27-25 win.
“When it’s a close game, we are really able to pull together as a team,” Strauch said.
In the final set, Bret Harte jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but the Bears responded with a 6-0 run of their own to go up 6-3. Grotto recorded back-to-back kills and later in the set, Strauch recorded consecutive kills to give the Bullfrogs an 8-7 lead.
“You just have to put yourself out there on the court and play not only for yourself, but for all of your teammates out there as well,” Strauch said. “You have to have the mindset that the ball isn’t going to hit the ground.”
Summerville fought back and eventually led 13-12. But a kill from Lane and two mistakes from the Bears gave Bret Harte the match-clinching 3-2 win.
Liberty Garcia finished the night 18 for 19 serving with three aces, had 18 serves received and seven digs; Swift was 16 for 16 serving and was 103 for 107 passing with 20 assists; Jaycee Kirk as 31 for 37 passing with one assist; Hailey Callahan had four kills; Lane had four aces, eight kills, 12 serves received and five digs; Gabi Hutchens was 14 for 15 serving with one ace, had five kills and nine digs; Arias had four kills; Strauch was 13 for 13 serving, had seven kills, 14 serves received and 10 digs; Grotto had a team-high 14 kills; and Rael had two kills, nine serves received and nine digs in the win.
Bret Harte (10-12, 6-5 MLL) faces Amador Tuesday afternoon in Sutter Creek and will then take on Argonaut Thursday in Jackson.