WAKEFIELD — It’s not often that a good-sized crowd stands up at the end of a volleyball match and gives both teams a standing ovation. But that’s what happened at Cardinal Gym in Wakefield on Monday night as Bessemer eked out a razor-thin, five-set thriller over Wakefield-Marenisco 25-14, 25-23, 12-25, 22-25, and 17-15.
The standing ovation seemed like a sign of appreciation of the intense emotion, hard work and all-out competition displayed by both teams.
“One got a W, but nobody lost tonight,” Bessemer coach Sherry Mettler said. “You had total domination by both teams in one match. Volleyball is a game of momentum. Who can keep it glued together the longest and who comes unglued? This is what I kind of expected from them (the Cardinals). They are starting to believe in themselves. Sometimes it’s just dumb breaks or the right bounce of the ball that night that wins a match.”
Wakefield-Marenisco coach Jessica Novascone was very surprised at the momentum changes and was pleased at how far Cardinal volleyball has come.
“We used to lose to Bessemer 25-6, 25-8 in the past,” Novascone said. “But that wasn’t luck out there. Both teams were even. The standing ovation was remarkable on how far we’ve come. We have four seniors who have played the whole way and five sophomores who started in seventh grade. They listen and have the best attitudes and are a solid set of girls.”
Mettler said that at this point, the Cardinals have the speed and the Speedgirls have the power. Sometimes speed wins out and sometimes Bessemer’s power overcomes.
In the first set, Bessemer’s Sarah Tudgeon cranked out an ace on a hard, line-drive serve. Then Claire Tourville took over with two kills and an ace that put Bessemer up 13-4. Brenna Bogacyzk blocked a shot at the net to make it 18-9 and Tourville served three more points as the Speedgirls closed out the set 25-14.
At the start of the second set, Bogaczyk nailed a kill and Julie Ahnen’s ace gave Bessemer a 6-1 lead. It looked like many of the other Speedgirl blowout victories of the past was happening again.
Novascone said she told her team it was time to start turning things around and to put it all out on the court.
W-M fought back to take a 23-19 lead, but Tourville saved Bessemer by serving six straight points to pull out the second set, 25-23. Tourville’s ace and Ahnen’s kill down the sidelines were the keys.
In the third set, the Cardinals came out blazing. A Miranda Sibley tip and kill down the middle increased W-M’s lead to 12-3 and wide shots by Bessemer made it 14-3.
A nice tip by Mikhayla Sampson and excellent serving by Trudgeon brought the Speedgirls back, but Summer Curtis and Brianna Greenough got hot with kills and aces and the Cardinals won set three, 25-12.
Tourville’s serving gave Bessemer a quick 8-0 lead in the fourth set, but sophomore Lauren Grace began scoring points as W-M narrowed the gap and then went ahead 14-13, when Hallee Yon notched an ace.
W-M won most of the long rallies and took the fourth set, 25-22.
“The fifth set was a nail-biter,” Novascone said.
The original 15-point set was tied five times. Ahead 15-14, W-M served to Bessemer’s backcourt and the ball was returned almost off the court. Trudgeon somehow managed to tip the ball to an open spot between three Cardinal players. Then she slammed two serves that W-M returned, but they landed off the court.
“Sarah had that crucial tip that won it for us,” Mettler said.
Trudgeon ripped eight aces, eight kills and five assists. Tourville dished out seven aces seven assists and four kills.
W-M’s Sibley had eight kills and two aces, while Curtis reeled off five aces, eight kills and three digs. Setter Kassidee Yon had 14 assists, while her twin sister, Hallee, came up with seven kills and five aces.
W-M will host Ironwood on Thursday at 7:15, while Bessemer plays a tough Mercer team on the road on Thursday at 7:15.
Bessemer won the JV game, 25-23, 25-23.