Saline’s volleyball team ran into a powerhouse Bedford time at the worst possible time.
Over the weekend, the Hornets lost junior frontline hitter Olivia Vance with a badly dislocated thumb. Beating Bedford volleyball at full strength requires a disciplined, nearly error-free effort. Doing so shorthanded is a herculean task.
On top of that, the Hornets were executing a new offensive setup – designed specifically for a Vance-less front line. In the end, playing a new offense while shorthanded against a state powerhouse proved too much, and Saline lost 25-19, 25-15 and 25-19.
“I’m proud of the girls today. We started working on a new offense Monday and we used it tonight. That’s not easy,” Saline coach Kenny Seiler said.
The Hornets knew they were in for a challenge and they came out fired up and ready to roar. They opened the scoring with a block at the net. Taylor Basler and Madison Whitfield had kills as Saline built a 5-2 lead with aggressive swinging.
Whitfield had a couple more kills as Saline built a 9-5 lead.
Bedford climbed back into the game with a point and then two aces by Breeanna Long. Buoyed by a boisterous student section, Saline regained momentum after a long rally. The Hornets picked up another point to take an 11-8 lead. But that’s where things went south. Bedford picked up one point and got another with a block. Levi Lennard also served an ace during a five-point run that changed the complexion of the set. Bedford led 13-11 and Saline spent the rest of the set playing catchup.
Down 14-13, Basler landed a kill to tie the game. But Bedford added a few more points.
Whitfield, Saline’s star middle hitter, kept the Hornets close with more kills and a block. Bedford jumped ahead 21-16 and Saline tried valiantly to close the gap. Whitfield scored with a tip. Liz Howden scored with a tip and then a kill to make it a three-point game. But the Mules finished with three straight points to take the first set.
“I think we maybe got a little too excited and rushed a few things,” Seiler said. “Playing in a new offense is complicated enough without rushing things.”
Saline opened the second set with a kill by Howden and another point. Bedford responded with three straight points to take the lead. Howden landed another spike to tie the game at three and Bedford answered with three straight points. The Hornets spent the rest of the set behind by at least three points. Down 24-11, Saline kept battling and rattled off four straight points – it’s longest run of the night. Mickaley Monahan served two aces during the run and Stefanie Fletcher also had a kill. But it was too little, too late. Bedford closed it out with one point.
Saline began the third set with a kill by Howden and then took a 2-1 lead on a kill by #10 (not listed on the roster). But the Mules rattled off four straight points to take a 5-2 lead and never looked back.