SUGAR GROVE — The Lady Falcons faced competition they did not expect from the Lady Rockets on Sept. 8 in a three-set loss to Berne Union.
Quickly into the first set, Berne Union showed their strength at the net with two powerful hitters that put everything they could into their kills to Miller’s back court.
The Lady Rockets got the first point of the set with a hard kill, and Miller’s hammer, Josie Crabtree, was not fully up to her hitting power yet to help her Lady Falcons.
Miller got their first point at 1-2, Berne Union up, and with senior Alaina Boyden putting up her strong serves, she was finding weakness in Berne Union’s back-court defense.
After a series of aces for Boyden, Alyssa Kiefer at the net added a point with a tip over. She got Miller to six points and a lead, but Berne Union added six more points before the first timeout for a 10-6 lead.
Crabtree got her strength loosened up and made her attempts at kills, but quickly realized that the Lady Rockets could block her hits well.
Not long after, the Lady Rockets had the 15-6 lead over Miller. The Lady Falcons were facing hard serves and even harder kills from Berne Union’s hitters, hits that were ricocheting off of libero, Jace Agriesti, and deflecting into the bleachers.
Head coach Jennifer Boyden said her girls were getting frustrated at that point, especially her girls in the back row.
“I told them that they needed to step up their game,” she mentioned.
“We were not moving fast and were kind of slow on our feet; you could see how everyone was frustrated.”
The Lady Rockets mixed in some tips to Miller’s dead zone to get a 17-6 lead until Crabtree added some spin to her kills for Miller’s seventh points.
Junior Shainna Greenich was at the net and figured out how to block the hard kills from Berne Union’s power for Miller’s eighth point.
To work around Crabtree and Greenich, the Lady Rockets began their tips again and mixed in hard serves to get the first-set win over Miller, 25-12.
Berne started with the points again in the second set, but Miller was fighting a little more now that they realized the power the Lady Rockets had.
Miller got to two points before the timeout and Berne Union had seven. Coming back, Miller got their score to 5-9 with the luck that Berne Union was hitting too far out of bounds.
The Lady Rockets decided to move back to their hits at Agriesti, knowing the ricocheting power, but Greenich began her blocks again for an 8-10 score, Berne Union ahead.
The Lady Rockets stepped up their defense in the back row to dig out Crabtree’s kills consistently, and when Crabtree finally broke through, it was unmanageable to stop her hits.
The points alternated between Berne Union’s kills and Crabtree’s kills, but the Lady Rockets came out on top again with a 25-17 win over Miller in the second set.
The third set was a battle for the points in volleys that were showing great defense on both sides of the net — a volley of kills.
Berne Union’s front row learned how to stop Crabtree’s kills with no mistake now, but moving the ball around for Miller got them a volley win.
With a 7-10 score, the Lady Falcons were showing more fight in their play.
Miller lost some points with some miscommunications, but came back at 10-17 with Berne Union making mistakes and hitting the net.
At the third timeout of the set, Berne Union was up 19-14. Miller came to life to get the score to 16-19 with Crabtree’s tips over for points.
Miller began to use Kiefer for the kills, but Berne Union still managed to get the blocks. The final score showed a third-set loss for Miller, 16-25.
Heading into senior night, the Lady Falcons had to have a short memory. Boyden said they needed to move on after the loss.
“They just need to roll this off their back and get ready for Senior Night and the rest of the season,” she said.