The Bears set out from Sheffield on a cloudy Saturday afternoon, bound for Williston to face the Wildcats for the second time this season. The Berkshire team knew they had improved a lot in the last three weeks, but Williston had been practicing too, and the Bears knew they would be facing a very different team from the one they encountered early this season. Also, they would be playing a best-of-three match, rather than their customary best-of-five, so they would have to get right down to business in every set.
The team got off to a rough start, as star server Indie Coard ’16 saw her first serve go short, and the back row defense struggled to get the ball to setter Silvana Gomez ’17. Meanwhile, Williston’s serves kept landing right in a hole on the right side of the back row. During a timeout, with the Bears down 2-7, the team realized that the ball felt softer than usual, and that they would need to increase the power they put behind it in their serves and hits. From there, things turned around in fairly short order. Kay Humes ’15 went on a remarkable serving run, starting with two consecutive aces and closing the gap between the two teams to a 13-13 tie. After Genesis Paulino ’17 followed that up with another seven-point serving run (including three aces), the team rallied to a 25-16 victory.
The second set started out much stronger for the Bears than the first one. Co-captain Indie Coard set the tone with a brutal serving streak that gave Berkshire an 8-1 lead right out of the gate. Aside from that, though, it was the team’s offense rather than just serving that carried the day this time. Front-row stalwarts Sophie Needles ’16 and Didi Fade ’17 both had impressive kills, set up by Kay Humes. On defense, co-captain Sam Reagan ’16 had some great digs in the back row, and the precision with which she sent the ball to the setter was remarkable. Molly Chapman ’17 served up her first ace toward the end of the game, and the Bears rode their momentum to take the set, 25-15.
With the varsity team still in the midst of their third set, the JV squads decided to play a third game just for fun, which was a great opportunity for the Bears to mix it up, get everyone in the game, and put players in new positions. A highlight of that third set was Julie Kokot ’17 going on a six-point serving streak that brought Berkshire back from behind, 11-10. Sophie Needles and Indie Coard traded their usual spots, with Sophie trying her hand (quite successfully!) at setting and Indie jumping up to make the powerful hits that are usually Sophie’s domain. Back-row digger Sam Reagan stepped up to the front row and had a great kill early in the game, while Didi Fade finally had the chance to do some of the blocking she had been working on in practice. Though Williston pulled ahead to win by a razor-thin 24-26 margin, the Bears felt proud of themselves for taking those new risks, and were excited to try on different roles in a game situation.
As the bus returned to Berkshire, the sun had come out, and the team was looking forward to repeating their success when they travel to Ethel Walker next Wednesday.