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Bears Win 35th Straight League Game

October 2, 2021
Lily Middlekauff elevates for a kill (PC: Bruce Jeffrey)

Yesterday evening, the girls’ volleyball team won their 35th straight league match and 30th straight home match with a 3-0 win over Long Island Lutheran, a rematch of the 2021 PSAA Championship. The victory also marked their 14th straight PSAA sweep, including the playoffs and their sixth straight win over rival LuHi, who has been the Bears’ foil since we joined the league in 2018.

The Bears scored the first two points of the game when LuHi failed to return a pair of Niamh Scanlon serves. They still held a two-point lead at 9-7 following a Lilly Keegan kill and ace, but from there the visitors reeled off eight straight points to vault into a 15-9 advantage. Facing the prospect of losing their first set to a PSAA opponent in over a year, the Bears showed their championship DNA, winning the next five points, behind an Ava McCormick spike and a kill and ace from Ella Middlekauff, to pull within 14-15. LuHi showed resilience of their own by extending their lead back to 19-15 and moving within six points of the win, but the Bears would steal the set by closing on a 10-2 run. Gillian Bernier began the run with a kill and McCormick followed with one of her own to pull within 18-19. Both teams exchanged the next two points before Carmen Alvarez Herrero leveled the set at 20-20 with a tough serve that LuHi failed to return. LuHi grabbed the next point, but it would prove to be there last score of the set and their last lead of the entire match. A pair of errors gave the Bears the lead back before Keegan sent a spike between two defenders for a 23-21 edge. Lily Middlekauff emphatically ended the opening set with a pair of aces, the first of which painted the back line, as the Bears took the 25-21 win.

The Bears were pushed in the opening set, and raised their level of play in the second as the raced out to a 5-0 lead, thanks to Scanlon’s serve which provided two aces. The Bears led 10-5 when Lily Middlekauff served up an ace, prompting a timeout from LuHi to try to stem the Bears’ run. Out of the timeout, Middlekauff served up another ace to take a 12-5 lead. Two points later, Keegan spiked a ball into the deck and followed with an ace before Bernier slammed a kill inside a LuHi blocker as the Bears increased their edge to 15-6. After LuHi won back the serve, the Bear defense did not allow LuHi to score a point with their best server in control, and Ella Middlekauff followed with a back line ace as the Brook lead hit double-digits for the first time in the match. LuHi took the next four points, but a McCormick kill and a Scanlon ace pushed the lead back to 19-11. A Keegan roll shot moved the score to 22-14 and Alvarez Herrero closed the game with consecutive aces as the Bears took set two, 25-14.

Scanlon started set three off with another ace, her fourth of five in the match, and McCormick followed with consecutive kills to build a quick 3-1 lead. LuHi tied the set at 3-3, but McCormick and Lily Middlekauff answered with consecutive kills to grab a lead they would hold for the remainder of the match. With the Brook leading 7-4, the Middlekauff sisters took over during the set’s key stretch. Lily started a four-run spurt with a kill, and Ella followed with one of her own. Lily then bookended a LuHi timeout with a pair of aces to push the Brook to an 11-4 advantage. Ella then served up consecutive aces of her own to give the Brook a 15-7 advantage. Despite trailing by two sets and facing a deficit in the third, LuHi refused to go quietly and remained within striking distance, down 21-15, when the Bears secured the final four points of the set. After a LuHi error, Ella Middlekauff served up an ace. Bernier followed with a gorgeous cross-court kill after absorbing a block, and Keegan ended the match with a thrilling point in which she played a tough ball off the raised basketball hoop that LuHi could not return, closing out an 18th consecutive set win over LuHi, 25-15.

The Bears are now in the driver’s seat for a 5th consecutive regular season title, having beaten everyone in their first pass through the East Division. They are back on the court today in a tournament at Eastport-South Manor.

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