A heck of a match.
That is both the best and most accurate way to describe the five-set thriller that played out in the Region 5B Volleyball Tournament last Thursday night, Nov. 2 between second-seed Bridgewater-Emery and third-seed Freeman Public.
With a trip to the Class B’s firstever Sweet 16 round on the line, the Huskies and the Flyers went back and forth behind the loud support of their fans in an even louder, brand-new Emery gymnasium, with Bridgewater-Emery getting the final say in the fifth and decisive set.
The Huskies won 15-25, 25-23, 14-25, 25-13, 15-13 and were scheduled to take a 16-11 record into the Sweet 16 round against Warner Tuesday, Nov. 7. Reseeding for the Sweet 16 put Bridgewater-Emery at the No. 13 spot. Warner was No. 3.
The Flyers, who defeated Freeman Academy 3-1 to get to the Bridgewater-Emery match, finish what was a very good season 16-9, and while first-year head coach Keith Jensen was generally pleased with how things played out, last week’s tough loss to the Huskies reflected a team that has yet to reach its full potential.
“We played some amazing sets from time to time, but couldn’t always close out the games,” said Jensen. “They didn’t show all of their talent; there’s more left to come.”
Freeman’s match against Bridgewater-Emery was very much in the vein, with the Flyers dominating the first set. They gained separation from the Huskies early on and cruised to a 10-point win and 1-0 match lead.
“We started strong,” he said, referencing both the first set and the third, when his girls bounced back from a second-set loss with another convincing win at 25-14 to take a 2-1 overall lead. “We played really well in those early sets, but passing was a factor. We struggled getting our passes up, and that makes it tough on the setter and on the hitters.”
Bridgewater-Emery capitalized and nailed down a must-win fourth set 25-13, and then came back in the fifth and decisive set to squeak out a 15-13 win. The Flyers had led 6-3 and then 10-6 lead, and clung to a 10-9 advantage before the Huskies had the final say by winning six of the next nine points.
Jensen said the girls were “heartbroken” in the locker room after the match.
“I think everybody wanted a little more; I know I did,” he said. “It’s tough.” But the head coach also remains positive about the season and how far the girls have come.
“I was very pleased with the girls,” Jensen said. “I thought they made a lot of progress from the beginning to the end of the season.”
He points to a win in the first set and a lead in the second against a No. 3-ranked Hanson team during the regular season as an example of what this team is capable of doing. And coming an eyelash away from qualifying for the Sweet 16 should give everybody motivation to come back better next year.
“It definitely does for me, and I hope it does for the girls,” Jensen says. “I hope this shows them the potential of how good they can be.”
The Flyers will lose two seniors from this year’s team — Ashley Glanzer and Karli Maske. Both were starters and both contributed considerably to this year’s squad.
“Anytime you lose seniors they are missed, and that is certainly the case here,” he said. “But we bring a lot back. Those are the girls who are going to have to step up and take that leadership role.”
Freeman edged for a place at the table in first-ever Class B Sweet 16 round