The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

After a senior night win, volleyball takes on Blair Oaks for last home game of season

After the win, the Bruins gather in a quick huddle to celebrate their victory. They will play Blair Oaks tonight at home for their last home game of the season. Photo by Anna Xu.

The volleyball team played Battle High School in their annual senior night. After two set wins (25-20, 25-6), the squad is 18-9 going into tonight’s game against Blair Oaks at 7:30 p.m. in the RBHS main gym, marking the last home game of the season. The freshmen team starts at 5:00 p.m, and the junior varsity and varsity matches will follow. Varsity coach Nicole Murphy said the victory against the Spartans was pivotal.

“I think they saw that this [four game] losing streak needs to end now. [They thought], ‘Let’s go out and make sure it definitely doesn’t come back,’” Murphy said. “I think our fans were really [encouraging]. It was loud in here tonight, and that is awesome. That always helps, and that’s something that we don’t always experience at away games.”

Sophomore Ketti Horton, middle, goes up for a slam. The Bruins beat the Spartans in two sets (25-20, 25-6). Photo by Anna Xu

Throughout the first set, RBHS kept a steady three to four point lead against the Spartans. Because of some passing miscommunication in the back row and a few hitting errors, the Bruins were unable to make a distance, especially after some speedy serves and spikes from the Spartans. Still, the girls were able to prevail 25-20. 

The crowd clapped heartily for clever plays from senior Kennedy Robbins, who received two effortless kills from a roll and a tip to an uncovered spot on the field. 

“I’ve been working on being a smarter player, and kind of not just hitting at every ball. When you get up [to the ball], you kind of have to think like, ‘Where is this ball positioned? Is it far from the net? Is it tight from the net? What can I do with it?’” Robbins said. “Like the one ball where I tipped it over, like the middle of the court was wide open, so I’m like, ‘Ok, cool. I don’t have to swing at this ball. I can just tip it right there. It’s easy. It’s a point.’”

Murphy has taught the players to think rationally, not emotionally. In big plays such as blocks or spikes, the athletes are always thinking about ways they can optimize their chances of a kill. Just like Robbins, they want to play smart. 

One such play, a highlight of the first set, was a block from sophomore Ketti Horton. The clean stoppage made a crisp sound resounding through the whole auditorium. 

“My issue is pressing over the net a lot, so I’ve been really trying to work on that in practice,” Hortan said. “So I just saw her going up to swing, and I was like, ‘I’m going to get this block. It’s going to be me. I’m going to do it.’ So like that mindset, plus like working on it repeatedly in practice, just getting it over the net. It all worked.”

While there were many impressive plays in the first set, Murphy said there were some passing mistakes and an overall timidness that didn’t allow the team to get into a solid flow. 

“We were coming off that four game losing streak, so building energy to get over that little hump was the first game,” Murphy said. “I think once we saw that we were over that hump, [that] was how the second game was played.”

The second set saw a quick shift in dynamic. The sixth point contained many rallies between the Bruins and their rivals. The crowd clenched their seats as one spike turned into a good dig, and one block turned into a good cover play. In the end, the Bruins edged out the point, and from then on there was little challenge. The Bruins made virtually no silly errors, and the score was 16-2 when the Spartans called their second and final timeout. The dominance was made possible from several no-touch kills from juniors Kelly Barnes and Emma Roush, and sophomore Emma Lea Benney. Additionally, aces from freshman Ella Swindle and junior Cassie Gray significantly boosted the momentum. Barnes said she aims to think strategically when making a significant play. 

“Well first I look when I get up to see where the block is,” Barnes said. “Once I see where it is, I just swing the opposite way.”

Benney said her game plan is similar to Barnes in that she tries to find “different spots on the court that are open.” Benney had several impressive kills that seemed to fire straight to the corners of the court, too fast for the Spartans to dig. Each swing brought successive cheers from the spirited audience. 

The girls and the larger than usual crowd of parents were especially excited to win the evening matches as it was senior night. After every play Robbins made, the crowd made sure to wave her poster face in the air. Barnes spoke to how much she appreciates Robbins being her teammate. While the season is ending, Barnes said they can prolong the year by winning district games, which will begin late October. 

“Kennedy… is so awesome, and she’s so positive. She’s done a lot for us; she’s a great right side. We’re going to miss her a lot,” Barnes said. “But we are going to go hard so she has a longer season. We want to win for her.” 

Robbins, in turn, is thankful to her teammates. Because she is the only senior on the team, she said the underclassmen “had to step up their role.” Freshman setter Ella Swindle is one example. While she does possess innate talent for the sport and is highly ranked locally and nationally, she said volleyball requires friendship, something she feels she’s developed with Robbins despite age difference. 

“Definitely bonding off the court [is most important],” Swindle said. “Just like making sure we know each other as players and as people because our connection on the court is more than just teammates.” 

Barnes feels the shift from the individual to the team is one reason this year’s team has been more successful than previous years. Robbins agrees the vibe is much different from last year, and both her and Barnes enjoy it much more. 

“Our team loves each other. We work for each other; we are not playing individual. It’s a team sport,” Barnes said. “Last year it was all about winning this point, and it wasn’t about the girl next to you or anything. But this year we are all playing for each other, and it’s showing. We have the best record we’ve had in a long time.”

Barnes also attributes the great atmosphere to Murphy.

“Nicole, our new head coach, is why our team is doing better compared to last year. She loves volleyball, and her passion has really rubbed off on us,” Barnes said. “She’s changing the program at Rock Bridge, and just really cares so much for us. She’s always the one cheering the loudest, and that means so much to all of us.”

Taking this win, the Bruins look toward tonight’s match. Murphy hopes there will be a lively turnout to come cheer, and she, like Barnes, wishes for the season to extend as long as possible. 

“I really hope we take that energy that was present in the second game,” Murphy said. “I really hope carry that into tonight’s because they are beatable. We just need to have that energy.” 

Have you seen the RBHS volleyball team? Let us know in the comments below.

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