Beating Bedford always brings smiles to the girls on the Saline volleyball team. The Hornets defeated the Kicking Mules in straight sets, Tuesday, 25-23, 25-20 and 25-0, in a match played at Saline High School. The Hornets previously bested
Saline is 6-1-0 in the SEC Red, with their loss coming to Skyline. The Hornets face the Eagles at Skyline Oct. 22.
“It feels good. I don’t know how long it’s been since Saline beat Bedford in an actual SEC match, let alone two (Saline won at the SEC Jamboree). We’ve lost to them for awhile a district and that was always hard for us. But to win both this season in our home gym feels really good,” coach Emileen Palka said.
The first set was tough. Neither team could gain momentum. Still, the Hornets were typically jumping to leads and forcing the Mules to play catchup.
Fairly early in the set, a kill by Abigail Kreuzer started a four-point run that gave Saline a 14-8 lead - it’s largest lead of the set. The Mules fought back. Down 18-13, they recorded three straight points to make it a two-point set. From there it was a see-saw affair. At one point the Mules recorded three straight points to tie the game at 22. Sydney Baldwin, who had an excellent first set, landed a kill to break the run. Bedford came back and tied it up at 23, but the Hornets recorded the last two points of the set to win, 25-23. Josie Bero’s volley into the corner was the winner.
“Josie served them a little bit out of rotation and then she was smart enough to see they were off-center. She set that ball right to the deep corner,” Palka said. “Just playing smart is what gave us that momentum into game two.”
Bedford wasn’t ready to roll over just yet though. In set two, after Saline took a 5-3 lead, the Mules replied with four straight points to take a 7-5 lead. Down 8-6, Saline battled back. Emma Rigg, the 6-foot middle hitter, landed a kill. Cassidy Bero landed a kill. Julia Blaney dropped a tip on the Bedford floor. Saline led 10-8 and would fall behind again. Up 14-12, the Hornets pulled away with dominating play in the middle. Emma Rigg was in on three blocks during a five-point run that also featured two kills by outside hitter Kaija Sydlowski.
“We had some amazing blocks. When we can connect on our blocks and have those stuff blocks go right to the ground, that just carries our team. To have that happen multiple times on their big hitters, that helped us a lot in the second game,” Palka said.
The Hornets never looked back and went on to win 25-20.
It was all Saline to start the third set. With Josie Bero serving, Saline jumped to a 4-0 lead. Hayley Turner had a kill and Bero served an ace on the early run. Sydlowski found the floor for a few more kills and Julia Blaney served an ace as Saline went up 9-4. Saline went up 18-9 before the Mules regrouped, but the Hornets went on to win 25-20.
The Hornets improved to 18-7-2 overall. Palka said the team is playing well.
“I’m very happy. We have a stacked schedule and play very competitive teams, which I like, because I want to get us ready for post-season,” Palka said. “We are very aggressive. We are very quick. We might not be the tallest. We might not be the team that hits the hardest. But we’re going to be the team that fights the hardest. Our scrappiness and our defensive ability outweighs anything that any other team has.”
Saline’s next game is Oct. 2 at Pioneer. The Hornets next home match is Oct. 8 against Monroe.