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So far, it’s been a long and arduous season for the Brookings-Harbor volleyball team, as the winless Bruins have struggled to play both freely and aggressively.
Thursday night’s contest against conference rivals North Bend proved to be no different, as the Bruins could not overcome a poor nerve-induced start in their straight set (25-5, 25-14, 25-18) loss.
“I think it was typical of us; I don’t think it was anything that we didn’t think was going to happen,” said head coach Emilie Preiser. “We always start off flat, that’s just what we do. Sometimes I wish we played first and JV went second so we didn’t have to have all those jitters and the anticipation of waiting.
“I think the fact that we had a big crowd kind of played into it too, part of the mental aspect where we let that take over. It took us essentially until the third set to come back and start playing, and at that point in time it’s too late.”
The nerves were evident for the Bruins (0-12 overall, 0-7 Far West League), whom, clad in pink for breast cancer awareness night, dropped the first set in only 15 minutes off 14 unforced attack and service errors.
“I think it’s just a problem with our team that we kind of have to get over,” said senior setter
The Bruins put forth a more competitive effort out of the gate in the second set, even taking the lead at 7-6 off a service ace.
That was as far as their second set surge took them however, as the Bulldogs quickly tallied off a 7-2 run to take a 13-9 lead. From then on, the gap only widened as the Bruins imploded once more with eight attack/service errors before the Bulldogs punctuated the set with an ace.
Preiser inserted reserves Tisha Bailey, Olivia Runge and Destiney Lopez into the starting line-up in the third set, and her decision paid dividends as the Bruins had the most competitive showing of the night in the third set.
“This is her (Runge’s) first-year back after a major, major injury, she broke her leg, she pulled it through tonight, she made all her serves, had some great passes and digs on the back row… I was very impressed, very happy with that,” Presider said.
“Same thing for (Lopez) she came in and served, did her job, did what i needed her to do, she had a few miss balls, and not the greatest digs, but they were still playable, we were still able to do something with them.”
Bailey quickly made her presence felt in the third with a kill and strong serving to propel the Bruins to a 6-2 start, their biggest lead of the night. North Bend answered back with a three-point run to cut the deficit to one, but the Bruins held steady and nurtured their lead back to three at the 13-10 mark.
That was the last time the Bruins led in the set, as the Bulldogs swung back into the lead with a 7-1 run to flip the script.
While the Bruins did not entirely collapse as they did in the second, their teamwork noticeably faltered in the remainder of the set. In the final point of the match, a breakdown in communication caused the Bruins to stand idly by as a free ball plopped to the floor; an anti-climatic end to what had otherwise been a relatively back-and-forth set.
“(It was) way too (much) standing and looking at each other, expecting somebody else to step up and be the aggressive one,” Presider said. “Instead of saying ‘Mine! Mine! Mine!’ it was ‘Go! Go! Go!’”
While the night ended with a loss, Preiser noted the Bruins were ultimately successful in their efforts to “Dig for a Cure.”
“The whole point of tonight was to really raise awareness for breast cancer research, and that’s what we did,” Preiser said. “I told the girls it didn’t really matter what the scoreboard reflected, we were fighting for a bigger cause; we were fighting for something more than a league win tonight or beating North Bend.
“Although both of those things would’ve been nice, our first priority our was Dig for the Cure.”