The long, long nightmare for the Bethel College volleyball team got over quickly Monday night with a three-set win over Barclay College in the Threshers’ season opener at Thresher Gym.
Bethel won 25-13, 25-11, 25-13. The match took 59 minutes.
Bethel snaps a 25-match losing streak and wins its first for new head coach Stacy Middleton. Bethel also wins its first three-set match since Aug. 21 2015 against York.
“Great energy to start the game,” Middleton said. “We were playing for one point at a time, one volley at a time. … This was huge. Our main goal was not one person was going to outshine anybody. It took everybody on the bench, everybody in the huddle to win this game. As long as we played as a team, the rest of it would take care of itself. It was great to break the losing streak. We didn’t talk about it. If we could just play together, it would take care of itself.”
Senior Katie Neira led the Threshers with 14 kills. Neira had more kills than Barclay had as a team. Neira had a .667 attack percentage, while Barclay had a -.065 attack percentage. Neira had three aces, three digs and a solo block.
“This was just such an extraordinary feeling to finally turn this program around and get this win,” Neira said. “After not getting any wins last year, this was awesome not only for my returning teammates, but for my new teammates and a new coach and the whole community and school.”
“Katie worked really hard transitioning,” Middleton said. “She was just making sure she kept the ball in play. She did a great job of leading the attack. The setters did a good job of getting her the ball.”
In just a few weeks, the players had to adjust to a new coach and a new system.
“It was kind of hard at first,” Neira said. “A lot of us were skeptical, but we new we had to buy in to turn this program around. Coach Stacy and coach Vanessa (Schroeder) have really helped us out. All of my teammates put in a lot of work.”
Abby Kurtzer had four kills. Kelsie Anderson set 19 assists. Rachel Bustillos served seven aces, followed by Kurtzer and Taylor Buessing with three each. Kurtzer had six digs.
For Barclay, Natalie Stewart had six kills. Courtney Eltringham had eight assists. Mycha Owens had four digs.
Barclay didn’t down a block in the match.
Two Bethel aces and three Barclay hitting errors put the Threshers ahead 10-3 in the first set. After a Barclay time out, Bethel struggled with hitting and serving errors, allowing the Bears to get within four, before the Threshers made another run to take the set, breaking a streak of 18 straight set losses.
Bethel had six aces and three serving errors in the first set, while Barclay had no aces and two errors. Barclay managed just four kills to nine for the Threshers.
Barclay managed to stay a little closer to the Threshers in the second set. Bethel took a 15-7 lead to force a Bear time out. Bethel was able to close the set out from there.
Bethel jumped out 8-3 in the third set, but Barclay was able to climb back within three, 12-9, and force a Thresher time out. The Threshers came out and made an 4-1 run and was never threatened the rest of the match.
“Their serve receive was a little weak,” Neira said. “Our serving kept getting better. In that third set, we worked hard to finish it off.”
Bethel opens KCAC play at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Tabor. The Blue Jays opened the season with a four-set win over future conference opponent Avila on the road.
“I can’t believe we’re starting conference already,” Middleton said. “It comes quicker every year. We’re excited to go there and play them. It will be a true test. We have to compete and keep the ball in play. We’re not really competing against Tabor. We’re competing against the ball. We have to penetrate more on the block and talk more on the block. They will have a much bigger block than we saw tonight.”
BARCLAY (0-1) — (kills-aces-blocks) Sammi Gwin 0-0-0; Kierstin Newberry 0-0-0; Kristina Barber 0-0-0; Kaylie Fruh 0-1-0; Courtney Eltringham 1-1-0; Margarita Holguin 0-0-0; Samera Stevens 0-0-0; Haylee Beavers 2-0-0; Mycha Owens 0-0-0; Natalie Stewart 6-0-0; Sarah Easterwood 0-0-0; Leilani Carrasco 3-0-0.
BETHEL (1-0) — kills-aces-blocks) Katie Neira 14-3-1; Sami Strauss 1-0-0; Anna Stucky 2-0-0; Taylor Buessing 0-3-0; Abby Kurtzer 4-3-1; Avery Myatt 2-0-0; Rachel Bustillos 0-7-0; Kelsie Anderson 1-0-0; Shayla Schweitzer 1-0-0; Kaylee VanderVeen 0-0-0.
Dig leaders — Bar.: Owens 4, Newberry 2, Fruh 2, Eltringham 2, Beavers 2. Btl.: Kurtzer 6, Neira 2, Bustillos 3. Assist leaders — Bar.: Eltringham 8, Owens 2. Btl.: Anderson 19, Myatt 4.