The dream season continued for the Bryan volleyball team on Tuesday, as the Golden Bears completed a perfect 7-0 league record with a 25-15, 25-23, 25-15 sweep of Evergreen to finish off their first outright Northwest Ohio Athletic League title since 1991.
The season wasn’t always easy for the Bears, who won three of their league matches in back-and-forth five-set thrillers, but Bryan coach Melanie Reinhart said that’s the way it is in the NWOAL.
“I’m extremely proud,” she said. “It hasn’t been an easy road. We’ve had some really stressful games coming in, and our league is always tough. You’ve got to be on it on Tuesday nights to play in our league, and I thought these girls were determined from Aug. 1 on. They were determined that this was one of their goals, and they wanted to meet that goal. Throughout the whole season, they’ve done a great job staying focused.”
Bryan (18-3, 7-0) had already clinched a share of the NWOAL with a victory at Delta last week, but coming into Tuesday’s match, the Bears had very little interest in sharing the league, especially after missing out on an opportunity to win last season’s league title when the Bears lost to Evergreen in the final match of the regular season.
“We fought really hard last year, and we fell short,” Bryan senior Courtney Whetro said. “But this year, we just had a change in energy. We were so determined, because we got so close last year, and we just knew we could get it. Everyone worked so hard.”
The Bears were in control for the majority of the match. They ran away to a 25-15 victory in the first set and controlled much of the second set as well.
However, after Bryan took a 17-14 lead midway through the second set, Evergreen (11-10, 4-3) rallied to go up 19-18 late, which prompted a timeout from Reinhart.
Bryan responded out of the timeout, though, and rallied to take a two-set lead with a narrow 25-23 victory in the second set.
Then, with one set separating them from an outright league title, the Bears cruised to a 25-15 third-set victory to finish off history.
“It’s amazing,” said Bryan senior Jess Robb, who along with other teammates was wiping away tears after the game. “It’s very emotional, and it hasn’t happened in forever here. It felt great, and we worked so hard this season.”
Robb, in addition to Abby Fernihough, led the Bears in attacking with nine kills, while Whetro facilitated with 22 assists. Kelly Miller was 17-of-19 serving with four aces and six digs. Gwen Spengler was 17-of-18 serving with three aces and 10 digs. Amaiah Valderas was 9-10 serving with three aces and 10 digs.
Tuesday’s game served as Bryan’s 15th straight victory this season, which is a roll the Bears hope to keep going in the upcoming Division II postseason. Bryan drew the No. 1 seed in the Ottawa-Glandorf District, and will begin play in a sectional final on Oct. 17 in Bryan against the winner of a Van Wert-St. Marys Memorial matchup.
“Our sectional and district is tough,” Reinhart said. “We’ve got some tough teams in there, but these guys have that confidence going in, and they work hard in practice every day. ... And I think that motivation factor of knowing you’ve got to keep winning to stay alive gives them a little fuel to their fire.”