INDIANAPOLIS — Bethesda’s volleyball team blazed its own trail forward in the opening round of Sectional 58 Thursday night at Indiana School for the Deaf, as the Patriots won in five games.
Bethesda withstood a furious rally by the University Trailblazers in the decisive set, but prevailed to win the game, 16-14. Bethesda senior middle hitter Mekayla Leichty’s serve shanked off an opponent, and fell near the bleachers where the Patriots’ crowd sat for the match-winning point.
“We definitely started out, just wanting to give God all the glory,” Leichty said. “This whole season, we’ve been saying this season it’s our preseason, and this tournament is our actual season. It’s what we’ve been working for all year, just doing the basics and building up our team.”
Bethesda coach Matt Akeright called the win a building block for his team, one well-versed in five-game matches.
“It’s a step in the direction we want to take the program,” the first-year coach said. “One of my biggest rules is ‘Don’t freak out.’ You’re in a tight match. It’s not an end-all, be-all of anything. Just go out and do our job.
“We’ve been here before. We’ve played a lot of the schools and went to five. It’s another game, another opportunity — how are we going to carry ourselves on that court?”
University took the first game, 25-14. In the second game, the Trailblazers led 19-17 and Leichty recorded a dig and Bethesda won the point. That was one of 10 points the Patriots scored to rally from a 19-15 deficit and win the second game, 25-22.
“I kind of remember it,” she said of her dig. “It was definitely a big thing, and it’s always really gratifying to know that your dig helps win the kill.”
That was one of 13 digs Leichty notched on the night.
Sophomore middle hitter Morgan Reffeitt posted a .244 kill percentage, a stat Akeright praised. Defensively, Reffeitt paced the team with five solo blocks, two of which came in the third set.
Bethesda won the third set, 28-26, to move within one win of advancing. However, University weathered a late resurgence from the Patriots to win game four 25-22 and force the deciding set.
One of three seniors, Leichty recorded the game-winning ace in game five.
“This year was kind of my big year to step up,” she said. “It was just the most amazing moment. I realized it shanked off (her), and I was like, ‘Wow, we just won.’ It was definitely the coolest thing there is so far.”