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With five Brunswick County players on the roster, the Brunswick Community College volleyball program played and won its first-ever match Sept. 10.
Before a crowd that filled nearly three-fourths of one side of the West Brunswick High School gym, the Dolphins beat the Lenoir Community College Lancers 25-21, 25-21, 20-25, 25-22.
“It was not easy,” BCC coach Stephanie Beach said. “This is the first time we have really played against another opponent. We had a lot of first-game jitters. We got over that and we were able to pull through and persevere. I am very proud of the girls.”
The Lancers had 13 players and the Dolphins eight, indicating a possible mismatch. Maybe it was confidence or nerves, but about 45 minutes before the match began, three of the Lancers huddled outside the gym and smoked cigarettes, looking as if they were waiting for the doors to open for a movie rather than for a game.
And in the first game of the match, LCC played better. The Lancers took 18-14 lead before the Dolphins rallied.
LCC led 20-18 but a sideout cut the lead to 20-19, and then BCC co-captain Hannah Ennis (Triton) took over serving and scored ace. A set by Melissa Orth (WBHS) led to a kill by Jasmine Williams (New Hanover). An error by LCC and a block by Williams put BCC ahead 23-20. Another LCC error led to match point and, after a timeout, BCC got game point on a ball hit out of bounds. In the rally, Jordan Clear (WBHS) made a point-saving dig.
As in the first game, BCC played well late. A kill by Clear put the Dolphins ahead 21-20. LCC tied the score but BCC gained a point when co-captain Meghan Goldstein (SBHS) set Meg Phillips (WBHS) for a kill. Goldstein assisted on the next point, a hit by Orth, before LCC called timeout. When play resumed, Goldstein and Phillips teamed for another point. BCC won the game on an ace by Clear.
“I started to see them work as a team,” Beach said about the first two games. “Instead of six indivduals on the court, they became one unit.”
The Dolphins dominated the third game, taking leads of 8-3 and 15-10. But the Lancers rallied. Down 20-19, LCC scored six straight points to win the game 25-20.
“We were very down,” Beach said, “kind of like their feelings got hurt. We led that game pretty much the entire way and when we didn’t win, they were like, ‘What?’
“It was hard to pull them back up, but they were able to get back up after the heartbreak. They wanted to win in three games.”
The fourth game also was close at the end. BCC took advantage of three LCC errors in a 5-0 run to take a 22-16 lead. In the run, Clear had a kill and Goldstein a service winner.
But LCC battled and cut the lead to 23-21. The Dolphins gained a point when Phillips scored off a set by Goldstein. After an exchange of sideouts, Ennis scored the match-winning point.
“That shows a lot of heart,” Beach said about how the team rallied in the fourth game. “Lenoir Community College came back, but we were still able to hold on for the victory.”
For BCC, Goldstein had 28 assists.
“I definitely was impressed with the way my setter moved around on the floor,” Beach said. “She’s a leader on the court and she runs my offense.”
Phillips finished with 10 kills and six blocks. Kelly Garry (Webb) had 17 digs. Jasmine Williams had eight kills and Jordan Clear seven kills.
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Next season will be another first for the BCC volleyball team: The Dolphins will play in the new athletics center on campus.
“I think it’s going to be a good experience for all of us,” said Robbie Allen, the BCC athletics director and baseball coach. “I think (volleyball) is going to grow. I think it’s on its way. I’m excited.”
Having a “home” is crucial for a sports program to thrive.
“Even though we’re sharing that with the community, it’s still going to be our home,” Allen said. “There is something to said about a home-court advantage. I think it is going to boost basketball and volleyball.”
The gym is scheduled to be completed in February, and all BCC sports teams are anticipating using it.
“We hear it every day about how excited they are,” Allen said about the volleyball team. “Even our baseball players are talking about how excited they about the weight room. Some of them said, ‘We can get out early in the morning before classes and work out.’ And we intend to do that.
“We’re excited about it. It’s going to boost the morale of the school and athletically it’s going to be a big lift.”
MICHAEL PAUL is the sports editor at the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.