Bulldogs sweep Big Reds

BELLAIRE – Bridgeport’s Bulldogs came here Thursday night licking their wounds from a season-opening sweep at the hands of St. Clairsville a night earlier in girls’ volleyball action.

They left the All-American Village licking their chops following a crisp three-game sweep of the homestanding Big Reds (1-1) by scores of 25-13, 25-14 and 25-22 in exactly one hour on the east side of Guernsey Street.

“We communicated better tonight,” first-year Bridgeport head coach Ron Kelly said. “Not consistently, but they did at times. That’s one of the factors, in terms of volleyball, you need to communicate as a team … talk to each other.”

However, there were other aspects of the game that had the Bulldogs’ coach raving.

“Our service and receiving was really good,” he added. “Overall, I was pretty pleased.”

After watching Bellaire take a 1-0 lead in the first set on an ace by junior Talia Duffy, Bridgeport (1-1) reeled off 12 of the next 16 points to take a commanding, 12-5, advantage. Senior Maclaine Murad got the Bulldogs off to a quick start with three straight service points.

Bellaire sliced the deficit to 12-8, but Bridgeport answered with a 7-0 run – fueled by six Cheyenne Flower points – and finished the set on a 13-8 spree as the Big Reds were sloppy around the net.

The second set, which only took 17 minutes, was deadlocked at five before the Bulldogs chewed off seven of nine markers for a 12-7 lead. Following two points by the Big Reds, Bridgeport reeled off four straight to complete an 11-4 spurt, prompting veteran Bellaire head coach Kaye Sechrest to call a timeout.

The brief stoppage in play worked for two points, but Bridgeport ended things on a 9-5 run. Serving by Murad and Amber Millard sparked the visitors late in the second set.

Bellaire made things interesting in the third set, which was tied nine times, the last being at 22, before a thunderous kill by Flowers and a very-nice-placed shot by Murad left the Bulldogs with match-point. A long return by Bellaire ended things.

“They came in here and kind of had their way with us tonight,” Sechrest allowed. “My girls were not ready to play. They did not bump well and Bridgeport played well.

“What can you say, they took it to us,” she continued. “We just weren’t ready.”

Murad led all scorers in the match with 14 points. She also charted half-a-dozen digs, five aces, a kill and an assist. Flowers backed her teammate with a dozen lightings, including four aces. She added seven digs, five kills, a block and an assist. Millard donated eight points, six digs and a pair of kills, while Briana Massey finished with four points and five kills. Alyssa Crook had 17 assists and five points.

Leading the Big Reds in scoring was Cari Crozier with nine points. Tori Duffy chipped in seven, while Talia Duffy, Morgan Runyan and Hunter Eden all had six.

North can be reached at knorth@timesleaderonline.com