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The West Brunswick High School volleyball team beat West Bladen in four sets Oct. 2 as the Trojans moved closer to a showdown Oct. 11 at South Brunswick with the conference championship and the No. 1 seed for the playoffs at stake.
“This game was really important,” West Brunswick coach Leslie Reeves said. “We have to win out in order to face South again for No. 1. We can’t afford to drop a conference game.”
West, 8-1 in the conference, beat the Class 2A Knights 25-11, 25-18, 23-25, 26-24. The Knights had taken South Brunswick to five sets before losing in a previous conference match.
“It was important to set the stage for next Thursday, and the girls knew it,” Reeves said. “It was so exciting to be a part of it tonight. The first two games, I enjoyed coaching that. I enjoyed watching them. And I know they enjoyed playing.”
Serving by Alex Wickel and Olivia Babson led West to the first-set victory.
West led 11-6 but a kill by Babson led to a sideout. She held serve in a 4-0 run that put West ahead 16-6. In the run, Babson hit a winner, Bethany Morrison had a kill, Nicole Phillips had a kill and Alex Wickel had a kill. The Knights never rallied as West went on to the victory.
The second set foreshadowed the final two sets, as the Knights, trailing 21-14, scored four straight points. A kill by West’s Meeka Hewett led to a point and a sideout, and Bre Small held serve for the final three points, the last two errors by the Knights.
But the Knights dominated early in the third set and led 15-9 and 21-16 before the Trojans rallied and cut the lead to 24-23. The Knights won the set on an out-of-bounds serve by the Trojans.
“We had a few passing errors, a few lack-of-focus moments,” Reeves said. “They know tomorrow in practice all they are going to do is serve and work on some defense. We missed a lot of serves we don’t normally miss, which cost us.”
The Trojans started strongly in the fourth set, taking a 10-5 lead off a cross-court kill by Hewett. Holly Fulford held serve for two points and a 13-6 lead. But the Knights cut the lead to 13-11, and for the rest of the set the score remained close.
Bethany Morrison hit two service winners as West took a 19-15 lead.
The Knights cut the lead to 20-18 and had possession, but Hewett got a kill.
The Knights cut the lead to 21-20 and had possession, but a kill and a dink by Babson put West ahead 23-20.
Again, the Knights cut the lead to 23-22 and had possession, but Babson dinked for a point and a 24-22 lead. West was serving for the win, but the Knights got a kill, and an errant hit by West gave the Knights a point, a 24-24 tie and possession. But West got a kill by Phillips and Wickel held serve on match point for the 26-24 victory.
“That’s a credit to the girls,” Reeves said the fourth set victory. “If we get a pass and get a set, we can move the ball pretty well with our hitters.
“My hitters swung really good. Alex is setting the ball from her knees, all-out hustle on her part. Bethany (Morrison) had a good game. She was more confident in her swinging.”
Phillips had 25 kills and 11 service points. Hewett had 14 kills and nine service points. She also had 10 digs. Babson had 15 kills and eight service points. Hannah Stocks had eight service points and six digs. Alex Wickel had 56 assists and eight service points.
The West junior varsity won 16-25, 25-16, 25-13. Leilani Emile had 13 kills. Sumner Russ had 10 serving points and 17 assists. Abigail Benton and Hayden Huffman had six serving points. West is 6-2 in the conference.