Fenton — The Holly varsity volleyball team has had a season to remember already.
In the past, the Bronchos have struggled against the Fenton Tigers, but that has changed this season.
Holly has defeated the Tigers three times this year — twice during league play and another time in a weekend tournament. The third time happened Wednesday when the Bronchos defeated the Tigers 25-14, 25-23, 25-23, remaining a loss behind the Flushing Raiders from the top of the Metro League standings.
“I hope so,” Holly varsity volleyball coach Deena Maher said when talking about if the three wins breaks a mental barrier against Fenton. “But we are also trying to think bigger than our league. We don’t want this to be the most important match of our season. We want to go further than this and the league.”
The Bronchos have steadily improved during Maher’s time as Holly varsity volleyball coach, and its recent success against the Tigers shows it. That said, the Tigers played Holly much better in the third version of the rivalry than they had the previous two. Fenton certainly had great chances to win the final two sets against Holly. There were periods in both sets that each team grabbed momentum, and the team statistics were pretty similar. Fenton had 23 kills in the final two sets compared to Holly’s 21. Both teams had six hit errors. However, the one area that probably decided the match victor was the service line. Fenton had 14 service errors in the contest while collecting just one ace during the final two sets. Meanwhile, Holly had its share of service errors, but had more aces resulting in Holly’s victory.
“The girls are doing a lot better at staying calm and executing the game plan,” Fenton varsity volleyball coach Meghan Polce said. “We’ve been watching film and talking about not being such an emotional roller coaster and just focusing on the plan and staying and sticking to it.
“The one thing we didn’t do was serve and that kills me. In practice we are so good doing it, but in the pressure situations we still break down a little bit. Overall the girls played well today. We definitely competed. ... The girls did a really good job executing the game plan and showing that mental toughness and competitiveness, but we still have to clean up a few little things.”
The Tigers led early in the second set 7-5 after a kill by Lydia Poldesak, but Holly’s Paige Weeder followed with a kill and teammate Kennedy Hogan followed with back-to-back kills.
Holly led 8-7. The lead exchanged hands two more times and neither team ever established a large lead. Holly did lead 24-20 after a Nicole Jewell ace, but Fenton was able to cut the gap to 24-23 on two Holly hitting errors and a kill by Katelyn Beeverly. However, a Fenton service error gave the Bronchos the 25-23 victory.
In the third set the contest was tied at 18-al after a kill by Holly’s Amanda Patterson. The Brochos took the lead on the next play and led 20-18 after a Fenton service error. Holly never trailed the rest of the way. The lead was as much as 24-21 after a Fenton hitting error, but Fenton got kills from Lydia Podlesak and Katelyn Beverly, cutting the Holly edge to just 24-23. However, a kill by Holly’s Marissa Walker gave the Bronchos the set victory and the match win.
Holly now prepares for the big match with Flushing. The Bronchos need a win to have any realistic chance of earning at least a share of the league crown.
“We are still working on taking it one game at a time,” Deena Maher said. “Flushing is definitely on our radar, but you can’t ever overlook Fenton, especially Holly playing in this gym — it always takes a toll on us.”