Postseason jockeying: CB West earns series split with CB South
Revenge. Sweet, sweet revenge.
On Sept. 18, second-place Central Bucks South delivered a blow to rival Central Bucks West.
In a 3-1 home triumph, the Titans pulled away in each of the final three games to post the victory.
Last Thursday, however, it was the Bucks’ turn to return the favor. And they did so in similar fashion, winning the final three games by 25-23, 25-22 and 26-24 decisions to beat the Titans and split the season series.
“We got really embarrassed by them last time,” senior outside hitter Alicia West said.
“It feels great,” she continued. “We definitely earned it.”
It was a match of rallies, one that saw the Bucks get down several times, but respond to pull out thrilling points and eventual wins. After losing the first set by a 25-18 count, CB West rallied to win a tight second frame on a point following a timeout. Then in the third, the Bucks nearly let a lead that grew to as large as six points slip away, but got the crucial point up 23-22. Freshman libero Kailey Prall finished things off with a service point to put the Bucks in position to win.
“I mainly was just trying to get it up to our setter in the middle of the court,” Prall said of her night, which included a team-high 23 digs and a pair of kills.
The Titans did not go quietly, though. They responded with a strong start to the fourth set, jumping out to a 15-9 advantage. The Bucks had an answer, though. With a 9-3 run, they evened the score, and then after trading several points, got a chance to win after a CB South service error, which was followed by an error by the Bucks.
But CB West took the ensuing point, and then closed out its victory with an ace by senior defensive specialist/outside hitter Mary Kate Whalen, who had 13 digs.
“You look at them and you lift the girls and you feed into the energy when it’s positive,” CB West head coach Todd Miller said. “I’m into it because I want them to understand I’m all about them.”
Miller helped feed the Bucks’ already strong momentum and energy, cheering on his players during nearly every point. The result was a night that saw CB West improve to 7-4 in Suburban One League (SOL) Continental Conference play and draw even with CB South in the standings for second place.
The Titans, meanwhile, had to start several younger players because of injuries and illnesses to three seniors, including Cecilia Miller and middle hitter Jackie Haffey. Sophomores Erin Cleary, Meghan Dunn, Brianna Bannach and Sara Poli were among the players who saw time. They joined, among others, senior setters Lindsay Edling and Madi Conroy, senior middle hitter Jax Babezki, as well as junior libero Larissa Keer and junior outside hitter Taylor Danilowicz.
“The team wasn’t jelling with the sophomores and freshmen,” Titans head coach Ulana Keer said. “I think we did a good job, too. We just couldn’t capitalize.
“It’s unfortunate when we’re struggling in the back row,” she added. “They just couldn’t win the big points.”
For the Bucks, West led the way offensively with 17 kills and 14 digs. Junior setter Kelly McKinstry had 19 assists, 10 digs and was tied for the lead in aces (two) with Whalen, middle hitter Candace Rupert and Kayla King. To counter the Titans’ size advantage up front, the Bucks defense combined for 73 digs.
“We’re determined to make the playoffs,” McKinstry said. “Redemption feels good.”
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