INDIANAPOLIS — It wasn’t supposed to end this way for the Bethesda Christian volleyball team.
For the group of six Patriots seniors, their ‘refuse to lose’ mentality was infectious to the entire team.
Unfortunately, the Indiana School of the Deaf upset the Patriots, winning 3–0 (26–24, 25–18, 25–15) and claimed its second straight Class A volleyball sectional championship Saturday night.
“We had runs and we knew it was going to be close all the way, but this was very unexpected,” Bethesda Christian coach Marissa Sharbaugh said.
Bethesda had defeated Indiana Deaf twice earlier in the regular season, winning both matches in three sets.
Seniors Hannah Henry had 15 assists and seven kills and Sara Tague added eight kills while classmates Jordan Benge had 22 digs and Cassie Mitchell added 15. Junior Mekayla Leichty had two blocks and sophomore Savanna Harrison had two aces for the Patriots.
Bethesda looked like they would take the first set, leading 19–18, as a kill by Tague after an Indiana Deaf serve seemed to change the momentum in the Patriots’ favor after it shifted back and forth the entire set.
The Patriots would score the next four points, with a block and kill from Mitchell and pair of blocks from Leichty, and needed just one point to win.
But the Orioles broke the Patriots serve and scored the next seven points to take the set and change momentum in their favor and in the contest.
“It set the tone for the rest of the game, we were up (24–18) and I called time out when they got to their 21st point to break the momentum, but it didn’t break, it just didn’t happen,” Sharbaugh said.
Bethesda tried to regain momentum in the next two sets, but as the Orioles found open spots, the Patriots had to adjust to a more defensive role.
“Indiana Deaf limited their errors, which caused us to play more cautiously than we usually do,” Sharbaugh said. “We like to control the ball and attack and got ourselves out of our comfort zone and never fully got back into it.”
As the match ended and the Orioles began their celebration, the Patriots seniors looked toward their coach, who greeted them each with a comforting hug.
“I told the seniors I was proud of them, they didn’t give up,” Sharbaugh said. “If they can take away something, the lesson of growth is in the loss. I hope they can use what happened on the court tonight to help them grow as women.”
Replacing the talented senior class will be challenging and Sharbaugh now optimistically looks forward to next season.
“Next year is wide open, it will be interesting to see who comes up from incoming freshman class, especially in the first few weeks of practice,” she said.
Bethesda advanced to the sectional championship by defeating University 3–0 (25–16, 25–19, 25–13) but it wasn’t easy, as University made them work for every point it got.
Tague led the team with 12 kills and three aces, Leichty recorded two blocks, Henry tallied 15 assists and Benge totaled 15 digs in the victory.