Bearcats erase deficit to top Bulldogs in 5 sets
     2012-09-14      By Terry Gaston   
Photo by Ken Kurtz/Gering Citizen Bearcat freshman Chesney Walker (No. 6) attempts a spike against Gering sophomore Kaylee Spreier (No. 16) while Bearcat teammate sophomore Kenzie Devena (No. 7) preps for defense during the final set of Tuesday’s rivalry contest in Scottsbluff. The Lady Bearcats prevailed in five sets, 23-25, 20-25, 25-23, 25-17, 15-9.  
SCOTTSBLUFF—Volleyball is a momentum-dominated game in which a team needs to take advantage of the opportunities it is given.

The Gering Bulldogs, rebuilding under 28th-year coach Craig Schadwinkel, found themselves within two points of sweeping Scottsbluff out of the youth-laden Bearcats' gymnasium Tuesday night.
Four straight Gering errors, however, gave Scottsbluff not only the third-set win but a new life of which the freshly energized Bearcats took full advantage.

Scottsbluff rode that four-point momentum swing after falling behind two sets and 23-21 in the third to win in five sets, 23-25, 20-25, 25-23, 25-17, 15-9.

"There were certain phases of the match early in which we did a good job in," Schadwinkel said. "But in a dual match like this, two sets doesn't win it.

"With this group of kids, we've got to have a leader who's going to step up, crack the whip and say, 'Let's go, let's get 'er done,' and finish. We're not where we need to be."

In a match that was tightly contested most of the night -- Scottsbluff had a 10-point lead in Set 4 for its biggest margin, while Gering's largest lead in the match was the five points by which the Bulldogs won the second set -- the pivotal difference in the contest that totaled 207 points was a two-point deficit that in four points became a two-point set victory for the Bearcats.
In the third set, Scottsbluff looked ready to cut into the 2-1 set deficit with relative ease, leading 20-14 and then still up at 21-18 when Gering rallied on senior Santanna Mitchell's serve to take the lead at 23-21 -- and have the match victory by sweep within two points.

"I think the girls finally realized that hey, we are going to get swept," said second-year Scottsbluff coach Megan Burda, whose team last season was 0-4 against state qualifier Gering. "They stepped up and didn't let a ball drop and figured out how to get those points that we needed."

Two missed Gering sets pulled the match even at 23, and then a missed block against Bearcat senior Alexus Pinedo and a palm ball on set point gave Scottsbluff new life and a fourth set.

And the Bearcats took full advantage of the opportunity, trailing only 2-1 early and bounding to a 10-6 lead that grew to 16-9 and then to 20-10 before Scottsbluff finished with the eight-point win and forced the fifth-set race to 15.

The teams battled in the final game, neither leading by more than two points until Scottsbluff junior Kylie Guerue began the Bearcats' final 6-2 run with an ace serve.

Junior Makayla Castro had two huge kills for SHS in the final set and freshman Chesney Walker ended the Bearcats' comeback with a push return that sailed beyond the tightened Gering defense and still well inside.

That final, 207th point set off a celebration for the 3-7 Bearcats that rivaled any postseason tournament or series-clinching victory no matter the level or sport.

"We've talked a lot about being really disciplined on defense and I think they stepped up to that challenge and figured some of those things out," Burda said. "Sometimes you just have the tendency to creep forward, but staying disciplined on defense and going after everything really helped us out tonight."

Statistically for Gering, Mitchell led the Bulldogs with 13 kills and made 16 digs with two service aces. Junior Brooke Vowers had a team-best 25 digs with one service ace, while junior Savannah Walker had 11 digs, three solo blocks and two assisted blocks with one service ace.

Also, Gering junior Kelsea Prieels made team highs of 29 pass assists and three aces along with four kills; junior Katie O'Boyle had six kills, two blocks, one dig and one ace; and freshman Allie Boggs made four digs, two kills, two pass assists and one ace.
For Scottsbluff, Castro had a team-leading 10 kills while Guerue added eight and Pinedo made seven. Senior Connor Ehler made 22 of the Bearcats' 33 set assists, while Pinedo had a team-best three service aces.

The Bulldogs (2-8) return to action Thursday with a triangular at Chadron that includes Gordon-Rushville starting at 4 p.m., then a noon dual match Saturday at Ogallala. Gering will be in a triangular next Thursday at Kimball that includes Sidney, and the Bulldogs play at home again at the Twin Cities Invitational on Sept. 28 and 29.

Scottsbluff is off until next Thursday, when the Bearcats meet up with Chadron in Bridgeport for varsity and junior varsity triangulars.

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