Bellaire rallies past Bridgeport

BRIDGEPORT – Bellaire has started unbeaten in its first three volleyball matches, and veteran head coach Kaye Sechrest said it has been a total team effort.

The Big Reds latest conquest came Thursday night here inside the John J. Havlicek Gymnasium with a hard-fought victory over homestanding Bridgeport in four sets, 25-20, 17-25, 25-18 and 25-22.

“They’re tough … my girls don’t give up,” Sechrest stressed. “That’s one thing I think they’ve learned. Some of them have something to prove to me because they didn’t get the playing time they thought they should’ve last year. Some of them are doing the things they are supposed to do.

“We’re playing well as a team, but (Bridgeport coach) Ron (Kelly) has a young team, but they’re good. They hustle, too.”

Bellaire won the first set, rallying from an 18-15 deficit as senior Melissa Cordy scored eight points.

The Bulldogs (0-2) took the second set by scoring nine of 11 points to snap an 8-all deadlock. The Big Reds closed to within 23-17 before Kelly called a timeout.

Bridgeport senior Brianna Massey made it 24-17 with a wicked smash before ending it with a serve that hit the net, caromed over and found an open spot on the floor.

It appeared as though the hosts were going to take a 2-1 advantage in the match, but senior setter Makaya Green went down with an unspecified right arm injury in the pivotal third set, and the Bulldogs’ momentum went south.

“I don’t want to speculate on what the injury is, but it was monumental to our team,” Kelly said of Green’s loss. “We never really recovered.”

Sechrest agreed.

“You can’t lose your setter,” she said. “They were playing well.”

Bellaire trailed 15-14 before senior Elisha Gillespie reeled off seven straight points and finished with 10 in the set. Classmate Shiann Kolakowski made it 24-17 before the teams traded bad serves to give the Big Reds the win.

After a dozen deadlocks in the first three sets, the Big Reds led from the start in the fourth, and deciding, set to post the victory. However, it didn’t come easy.

Trailing by six, 11-5, Kelly called a timeout and his instructions led to a 10-5 run that cut the deficit to 16-15. Bellaire responded with a 7-4 run to build a seemingly comfortable, 23-19, lead only to see the Bulldogs hang tough by tallying three straight to make it, 23-22.

Gillespie put Bellaire ahead 24-22 with a to-hot-to-handle kill, and the visitors put the finishing touches on when junior Tara Duffy scored the final of her 16 points in the match.

“Gillespie and Cordy are my seniors … they’ve been with me,” Sechrest noted. “It was an entire team effort tonight. It’s a team and I think they understand that. It’s a team.”

Gillespie and Cordy evenly divided 44 points, with Cordy also recording 11 kills and Gillespie adding eight. Tara Duffy and classmate Mary Garloch each scored 16 points, while Garloch charted 15 assists and Duffy had half-a-dozen kills. Junior Morgan Runyan finished with nine points, 10 assists and four kills. Kolakowski had seven points and Talia Duffy 20 digs.

Bridgeport was led by Dakota Dobrzynski and Shannon Frey with eight points each. Dobrzynski added eight digs and seven assists, while Frey recorded 21 digs. Brianna Massey stuffed the stat sheet with six points, 16 digs, half-a-dozen kills and two blocks. Vanessa Stanton added three points, 18 digs and four kills, while Deja Massey had five points, 11 digs and a pair of kills. Shelby Matheny had five points and 18 digs. Green had thee points and 10 assists before being injured.

Bellaire hosts River Monday, while Bridgeport heads to Morristown Tuesday to meet Union Local.

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