DECATUR – Energy and experience were on Bellmont’s side Thursday against NHC rival Carroll.
The Braves, the veterans with the fresher legs, took it to Carroll in a 3-0 win that avenged a rare NHC loss to the Chargers a year ago.
Game scores were 25-15, 25-11, 25-21.
The Class 3A No. 3 Braves (19-4, 3-0 NHC) were in command from the start against the younger Chargers (15-3, 2-1), who are No. 14 in 4A.
It showed tonight that we are more experienced, Bellmont senior setter Bailee Hankenson said. We are basically all returning players from last year, and the majority of them are juniors and sophomores.
The loss was Carroll’s third match in as many days, with a five-game win a night before against Woodlan.
For me it was all about the energy, Bellmont coach Craig Krull said. It was our (ability) to be ready to go that caught Carroll by surprise. We just rode that all the way to the end.
Their passes were a little off target, so their offense was slow, and we really took advantage of it.
The Braves boast four senior and two junior starters, while the Chargers have four sophomores, a senior and a junior and are without senior Charlotte Conser, a four-year starter who recently quit the team.
They educated our young kids on what the will to win is all about, Carroll coach Doug Helsom said. Credit to them because they showed up to play, and we didn’t get off the bus.
We have some young players, but they are experienced as far as the game of volleyball is concerned, but tonight we looked very young. (Bellmont) helped us look very young. Their seniors are exceptional, and they have great athletes at every position, but you have to show up to play, and unfortunately we didn’t.
A year ago, Carroll beat Bellmont in five games to pull the NHC title away from the Braves.
We were pumped to go out there and play well, said Hankenson, who had 21 assists and two aces. We definitely remember last year. It was like a revenge night, and we were ready to take back the NHC.
Hankenson’s twin sister, Holly, led Bellmont with nine kills. Junior Janaya Wilder had nine digs and two aces.
In nine seasons as the Bellmont coach, Krull has only two NHC losses – both to Carroll – in 2005 (his first season as the Braves coach) and 2012.
It is one I always have marked, Krull said of the matchup with Carroll. If that’s the reason that motivates them, let’s do that every match.
All three matches were close to start, with the Braves pulling away each time.
Carroll got to within 22-21 in the third game before Bellmont finished things off.
Don’t know if we have won the conference or not, but it definitely puts us in the driver’s seat, Krull said. I will give it to our girls tonight, they were focused and ready to go.
As coaches, the question is can we maintain that no matter who we play?