HAMLER — Patrick Henry came into Thursday’s Northwest Ohio Athletic League tilt owners of a four-match, and a 12-set, winning streak, but it was the Golden Bears of Bryan who played like a team with momentum, picking up an important 25-18, 25-19, 25-17 win over the Patriots in the House of Heat.
Gwen Spengler recorded six aces to lead all players on the court, while going a perfect 21-of-21 in service, while Jess Robb added 11 kills and Abby Fernihough 10 for Bryan.
Courtney Whetro finished 14-of-15 in service with 25 assists and five aces, while Kelly Miller added 10 digs.
“In this league, you have to be able to win on the road because everyone can win at home,” Bryan coach Melanie Reinhart said. “You’ve got to step it up to be able to get on a bus, come out and play hard, and I thought our girls were able to do that tonight.”
Carissa Rosebrook led the Patriots with seven kills, while McKenzie Vance added six. Callie Seedorf and Faith Bostelman each finished with four.
Rosebrook and Audrey Sonnenberg each led the team with two aces, while Rachel Nickels added one. Rosebrook also had two blocks to lead Patrick Henry, with Sonnenberg and Vance each turning away a ball at the net.
Sonnenberg led Patrick Henry with 21 assists, while Nickels turned in 16 digs.
“That was not us tonight,” Patrick Henry coach Hailey Nusbaum said. “I don’t know what it was, but we were not playing the kind of game we had played this season. We weren’t communicating and we weren’t able to work the ball where we wanted to at all.”
Patrick Henry played the first set close early, with Sonnenberg placing an ace to knot the score at 7 before the Golden Bears used an 8-3 run to take a 15-10 lead and force Nusbaum to call a timeout.
Bryan won the next two points and 10 of the final 18 to win the set, snapping the Patriots’ 12-set winning streak that opened the season.
“PH is super scrappy,” Reinhart said. “PH is a super scrappy team, and that can make them tough to play against. That showed early, because it was kind of tight and back-and-forth, but then we played our game we had been waiting for all year.”
The Patriots got off to a hot start in the second, using an ace from Nickels and a kill from Vance to key an 8-3 set-opening run to force a Bryan timeout, but the Golden Bears responded with a 10-4 run of their own to force Patrick Henry into a timeout trailing 14-12.
Bryan won 11 of the final 18 points to close the frame and push the hosts to the brink of being swept.
“You never want to lose, but to a point, I think there were some negatives to us opening the season without dropping any sets,” Nusbaum said. “This team has never learned how to rebound from dropping a set, and we looked a little shell-shocked in that second set. Hopefully this can be a learning experience for them so we can rebound a little quicker next time, because losing is inevitable in this sport.”
Patrick Henry again put up a fight early in the third, working the score back even at 16-all before Bryan sealed the win by winning nine of the final 10 points.
After the match, Reinhart lauded her team’s service in keeping the Patriots off balance. Bryan committed just three service errors to Patrick Henry’s six.
“We’ve been talking all year about being aggressive with our serves,” Reinhart said. “When you’re going up against the kinds of hitters PH has, you’re going to get pounded on, so you’ve got to take some chances, and that’s what we had been working on and that’s what we did tonight.”
Patrick Henry (4-1, 1-1 NWOAL) travels to take on Napoleon Monday at 5:45 in the Grand Canyon in non-league action, while Bryan (4-3, 2-0 NWOAL) hosts Swanton Tuesday evening at 5:45 in league play.