By Rich Palzewic
PULASKI – After two close sets to begin its match with Pulaski Tuesday, Sept. 27, the Bay Port volleyball showed why it’s at the top of the Fox River Classic Conference (FRCC).
The Pirates and Red Raiders split the first two before the visitors eventually won the conference tilt in four sets, 27-25, 21-25, 25-18, 25-18.
“We’ve been working on our consistency,” Bay Port coach Jeremy Weis said. “At times, we looked really good out there — we have some athletic kids.”
After trailing 7-3 to begin the match, the Pirates went up 18-16 on a block by Ellie McDermid.
Pulaski surged ahead 23-22 after Ashton Birr’s serve hit the hit and trickled over for a point.
A service error and a net violation on Bay Port (8-4 overall, 4-0 FRCC) gave the Red Raiders (8-12, 2-2) a set point at 25-24, but three consecutive points by the Pirates gave them the first set.
With set two tied at 18-18, Pulaski scored seven of the last 10 points to win going away.
“I don’t think we took advantage of our serving tonight,” Weis said. “Pulaski’s service receiving in the first two games was spot on — that put pressure on us. They did a great job on their first touches.”
In sets three and four, Weis said he made a few lineup changes.
“I put some different kids in,” he said. “In the back row, I put in Bella Cornette — she hadn’t gotten a lot of playing time, but she has a lot of good platform skills. I also put in a different middle, Chloe Parker, and she gave us a good spark. I also inserted Isabella Denny swinging in the front row — she did a great job of putting high swings on the ball and kept things in play. We needed to do a better job on our first touches, and (the changes) allowed us to do that.”
After the Pirates jumped out to a 9-3 lead in set three, the Red Raiders eventually tied things up at 14-14.
Bay Port then ended the set on an 11-4 run.
In set four, the Pirates had leads of 6-1 and 16-9 before Pulaski played even the rest of the set.
Josie Hoffman’s kill on match point ended things for Bay Port.
The Pirates sit atop the FRCC with Manitowoc, while the Red Raiders are in the middle of the 10-team conference.
“I’m pleased with the turnaround with this group,” Weis said. “The things we’re trying to teach them and put into the play, they’ve been focused on. Now we just have to get the consistency. I wish I had another year with the same kids because I’ve liked what I’ve seen in seven weeks.”
Pulaski coach Bethany Thibodeau was happy with her team’s performance.
“The first two sets were a battle,” she said. “Both teams were mentally and physically going back and forth and were compatible. Bay Port has a strong offense and good ball control. In the last two sets, we got slow and lost our ball control.”
Thibodeau said her team has been plagued by injury.
“We’ve yet to have our full team compete together, so it’s been a struggle,” she said. “We still have people out, so it’s been a lot of adapting. If we can get healthy, we’re a talented team with seasoned players.”
By Rich Palzewic