Friday, October 5th, 2007
New Bremen able to shrug off recent struggles
By Randy Bruns
NEW BREMEN - After a disappointing last seven days, the New Bremen Cardinals got their season back on track in a big way Thursday night with a thrilling five-game win over the Versailles Tigers.
New Bremen improves to 14-3 overall and 6-1 in the Midwest Athletic Conference, while Versailles falls to 18-2 on the year and 5-2 in league play.
The Cardinals had lost their last two matches, including a heartbreaking MAC defeat at the hands of Minster last Thursday, and one more conference loss would have effectively ended their chance at a title.
Now, they've got their shot, with a pivotal match against league-leading Marion Local coming up on Tuesday.
Things didn't look so good early on for the hosts, as they trailed 18-14 in game one, but the visitors then got a little sloppy. Five hitting errors by the Tigers sandwiched around an ace by Cardinal Lindsay Warner gave the hosts their first lead of the game, and they didn't waste time once they got out in front. A pair of kills by Tayor Jones put up the finals points for the Cardinals, as they took the opener by a score of 25-23.
Game two was a case of déjà vu, as the Tigers vaulted out to another 18-14 advantage. Once again, the Cardinals came back, but this time they could never get over the hump completely. A pair of errors by the Tigers gave the hosts game point at 24-23, but Christine Borchers banged a kill for the Tigers to tie things back up. Borchers later notched another kill to give the visitors a one-point lead, and a Cardinal hitting error ended the match at 27-25 in favor of the Tigers.
The third game was tight most of the way, but the Tigers mashed the gas pedal late to pull away. Up just 17-14, the visitors got a pair of kills by Taylor Ording and Justine Raterman to pad their lead, and that duo each bashed another one later in the game before the Tigers took the win, 25-19.
New Bremen was determined to make sure this one went the distance, as it controlled the fourth game after falling behind early. Jones swatted a kill to tie things at 9-9, and after an ace by Becca Dwenger put New Bremen in the lead, it never looked back. The hosts built a four-point advantage that would never get smaller, and a kill by Jackie Dabbelt gave them the game, 25-20.
After all the excitement in the first four games, it didn't look like there would be much in the finale, as the Cardinals jumped out to a commanding 5-1 lead early on. The Tigers battled back, though, and pulled to within one at 10-9 on a block by Borchers. The Tigers' hitting woes continued, however, as a pair of errors later gave the Cardinals a 13-9 lead, and another one ended the game at 15-10.
New Bremen coach Lisa Thobe was ecstatic that her team was able to come back after a rough week.
"This was major, because what we went through had nothing to do with their ability," said Thobe of the Cardinals' subpar play of late. "We have the skills, and you saw that in the first 10 games, and then all of a sudden they just went off on a tangent. Tonight we just had to focus on the positive and forget the negative. We had to make fewer mistakes than them, and that's what happened tonight."
For his part, Versailles coach Jeremy Riley could not understand his team's lack of desire on the night.
"I think New Bremen wanted it more," said Riley. "They came in more ready for a fight than we were, and we really didn't show any emotion until the fifth game. Serve receive has been one of our strengths throughout the whole season, but if you're not 100-percent focused onto what you're going to do you're going to have trouble. We got a little rattled at times, and our mental toughness is a concern."
New Bremen will take to the road Tuesday to face Marion Local with a shot at a tie for first place in the league, while Versailles will head back home to face Parkway.