Bethel wins battle of ‘Eagles’

Published 1:18 pm Friday, August 24, 2012

ASKEWVILLE – Well it’s one more round for experience.

Bethel Christian Academy opened their 2012 volleyball season with a non-conference sweep (3-0) of Northeast Academy here Thursday evening.

The Lady Eagles won the ‘Eagle-fight’ with the NEA Eagles by scores of 25-20, 25-16 and 25-20.  The win came from a team dominated by upperclassmen, including five seniors.

Bethel served up 20 service aces for the match, eight by Libero Catrina Gibson, including four in a row she registered in the second game.

The Lady Eagles also had 14 kills thanks to a front line that featured 6’-3” middle hitter Jessica Howerton with outside help from Alyssa Fairless, Kristen Adams and Kelsie Conner.

“It was a good first match for us,” said Bethel coach Courtney Byrum. “We got working together with our communication and our serving and we were really hitting out targets.

“That’s how we got so far ahead in the second (game) and our serves pulled us out in the third as well,” she added.

Northeast, which was coming off a season-opening win over Northampton County on Wednesday, fell behind 9-4 in the first game before coming back to tie the set at 9-9 on a great dig by Airelle Ricks.

The game was tied once more at 10-all before Bethel got two points thanks to return errors on attack and back-to-back service aces by Anna Northcott to push out to a 14-10 lead.

They took their first five-point lead, 17-12, on service ace by Conner. However, Northeast could never chop into that bulge.

NEA still trailed 23-28 before Conner got a kill and Bethel scored on a return error to win the first game by five.

Northeast opened the second game by breezing out to a 5-3 lead. But back stormed Bethel to tie it at 5-all, then reel off four points in a row for a 9-5 lead they never surrendered.

The Lady Eagles built leads of 16-10 and 19-11 as their front line continued to dominate and intimidate.

Back-to-back kills by Howerton and Adams gave Bethel their biggest lead 23-12. NEA erased four of those points with a short run before succumbing to a return error and a service error and falling by nine.

Facing elimination in straight sets, Northeast fought valiantly in the third, matching scoring with Bethel in a game that featured eight ties. The visiting Eagles built leads of 13-10 and 16-12.

Back roared Bethel, spurred on by the crowd and outscoring Northeast 5-1 to tie the game at 17-all. The teams exchanged kills and were knotted at 18-18.

However, it was on serve that NEA was most vulnerable and Bethel pounced. A kill, a service error and a pair of service aces put the Lady Eagles up 22-18.

Bethel took three of the final five points scored between the two and wrapped up the win, and the evening, on a kill by Conner.

“They just killed us with their net play,” said veteran Northeast coach Cap Pfeiffer, shaking his head. “You’re passing for a set right at the net and there’s a six-footer to intimidate you.  I’m taking nothing away from them because they hustled.

“We just didn’t flow and when you don’t get your serves in you’re not going to win ball games,” he added.

“My seniors have been with me since they started playing volleyball,” said Byrum. “They know what they’re supposed to do and they came out and did it.”