Bruton narrowly avoided a fifth set Thursday at home against Lafayette in volleyball, winning 25-16, 25-17, 24-26, 25-23.
The Panthers commanded the first two sets before a tight third that the Rams ended with a deliberate kill from freshman Charlie Burgess that found the floor on a diagonal trajectory behind Bruton’s front line.
Lafayette looked poised to force a match-deciding set, leading 23-22 before a Gabby Calloway kill and Jade Robinson block clinched another win for Bruton over Lafayette after the Panthers swept the Rams last season.
Bruton had won the first set against Warhill Tuesday before dropping the next three.
“Those last couple of games, I felt our team responded slowly,” Bruton coach Kevin Doloresco said. “They got a little tense and tight. I thought that was a good learning experience for us to learn to relax in the latter part of the games.”
For Bruton, it was staying close enough in the fourth set to be able to not play its best but still pull out a win.
Once Calloway’s kill set up the match point, Lafayette was in serious trouble on the road.
“I think our team starts off really slow and that is our problem,” Rams coach Rachel Tighe said. “We dig holes for ourselves and we can’t get back in it.”
MOST SPECTACULAR PLAY
It might have been Robinson’s emphatic block to end the match – she was joined on the attempt by Calloway and Ayanna Millner – but rewind to earlier in the set to find another gem on a dig from Calloway.
Calloway, a Hampton University recruit who played out of position (outside hitter) much of the evening, hustled to keep a ball in play in the corner, bumping it to Tabitha Oliver, who set up a Robinson kill at the net to make it 13-10.
BY THE NUMBERS
Calloway led Bruton with 17 kills, adding 10 digs and tied Neryssa Donnell for the lead in aces with four. Makayla Johnson led the Panthers with four blocks and Millner and Oliver each had three. Donnell was tops in digs with 22 and Alexa Woolson had 27 assists.
Standouts for Lafayette were Briar Ownby-Connolly (7 kills, 4 blocks), Emily Sullivan (8 kills, block, ace) and Burgess (six kills).
HE SAID IT
“I’ve always thought that being a small school in the Bay Rivers,” Doloresco said, “… We get an 18-game scrimmage. We just keep working and getting better. It’s always been a thing of belief. If they believe they can win, they can go on and take of business. That’s what we keep having to improve on.”
Bruton at Jamestown, Tuesday
Lafayette vs Churchland, Tuesday
Holtzman can be reached by phone at 757-298-5830.