By Beau Wicker Pharos-Tribune
---- — It’s been a tough start to the season for Logansport’s volleyball team. But on Tuesday the Berries played their arch nemesis, Harrison, to a close match in the Berry Bowl.
Just like in last year’s sectional title match, the Berries were able to take a game from the Raiders but weren’t able to get over the hump.
The Raiders held off the Berries in four games (25-17, 17-25, 25-22, 25-19) in a possible sectional preview.
“I think we proved tonight that we’re right with them still. Even with the slow start that we’ve had, we were still right with them tonight,” LHS coach Jon Vernon said.
The Berries (4-5) and Raiders (7-3) could certainly meet again in the Berry Bowl six weeks from now with the season on the line.
The Berries could look back to a crucial moment Tuesday in the third set when they were in position to possibly take a 2-1 lead in the match.
The Berries had stormed back from a 17-13 deficit in the set with a 8-1 run to take a 21-18 lead. Katie Easter had two aces during the run, Syd Bullard had three kills and Paulie Frye added a booming kill from the right side.
But the Raiders battled back with the help of some Berry errors to get within 21-20. Bullard struck again from the back row to make it 22-20 before the Raiders answered with five straight points which included two Berry errors, two kills and an ace by Kiley Banker to end the set.
“We still are a little bit young. In some spots we’ve still got some young kids, the ninth game of the season they’re still trying to work through,” Vernon said. “But you’ve got to give Harrison credit. They’ve been in that situation before where they’ve been behind and they fought back.”
Logan led in game four 11-9 and it was tied at 13-all before the Raiders ended the match with a flourish.
“I felt that our team blocked tremendously well, and that was our goal, and to serve well. I felt like we accomplished those things,” Harrison coach Lindsay Charles said. “We’ve been working really hard to be able to accomplish those things. Though we can appreciate the win, we have some things to work on and I’m looking forward to a great match in October.”
Charles also credited the Berries.
“They played extremely well. That is a tough group of kids. It was hard fought,” she said. “Syd Bullard is an excellent hitter, and I thought [Nakeya] Penny played a great game as well. I know that the Easter girl had to start setting for them, and I thought she did an outstanding job, too.”
Bullard finished with 18 kills and 10 digs to lead the Berries. Penny had seven kills and four digs, and Karlee Vernon floored six kills. Monika Ness had five kills, Frye added four and Lauren Pruitt chipped in with one.
Easter dished 21 assists to go with four aces and six digs, and Hannah Jones had 17 assists and six digs. Lindsey Cheney had eight digs and two aces. Kailey Vernon added five digs.
“I thought our kids played very hard tonight, I thought they played well,” Jon Vernon said. “We had a very good practice last night and they really came out and responded tonight.
“I really feel like — and I don’t know if people believe us or not — but I feel like we’re just as good as that team out there. They think they’re just as good as that team. We’re not going to have a soft schedule. We’re going to go out and play the better teams, Harrison and we’re going to Zionsville this weekend.”
The Berries didn’t expect to start 4-5. It doesn’t get any easier on Saturday at the Zionsville Tournament, but Jon Vernon said the top competition should help at the end of the season.
“It’s not been a bad start, it’s just been a slow start. I thought the kids responded well,” he said. “They could have just came out tonight and folded, and they didn’t. I thought they played hard, I thought they did a lot of good things.
“I told them don’t hang your heads, the good news is we always get the chance to play them again in October. Hopefully the next time with us winning a game and being ahead in game three, they know that they can win, they know that they can beat them. We’ve just got to finish it out. It’s just like last year in the sectional championship.”
Beau Wicker is the sports editor of the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.