Berthoud volleyball turns in strong showing at state

File photo – 2018 Berthoud High School volleyball team.

By Dan Karpiel

The Surveyor

There is no doubt that just about any team’s fortunes will ebb and flow over the course of a long season. Yet the highs and lows experienced by the Berthoud High School (BHS) volleyball team this season were more pronounced that the mean.

Berthoud went through a six-game slide midseason, losing eight of 10 during the stretch but, in the words of senior outside hitter Kailey Berry, stayed cohesive with one another and never lost faith. As Berry explained of the team chemistry factor, “It helped immensely because team support is everything, if you’re not working together it’s very hard to survive off just your individual skills, so having those connections really helped us move on and get out of that losing streak.”

That, coupled with the team coming to realize that, in Berry’s words,  “in the grand scheme of things, volleyball is just a game, we’re there to have fun, we’re there because we love the game, because we love to compete,” helped take relieve some pressure the team had been feeling.

Berthoud finished the year strongly, picking up wins in the Tri-Valley League and Golden Tournaments earn a spot in the postseason. Once they made the long drive out to Palisade, the Lady Spartans were as hot as any team in all of 4A and took the regional title, defeating Palisade 3-2 and Pueblo County 3-1 to earn a spot in the state tournament.

This year, the state tournament changed formats to a double-elimination bracket, getting away from the 12-team pool play format used in recent years. The feelings regarding the switch were generally positive as all teams got a chance to play at least two games, with both being meaningful.

In the opening round Tuesday morning, Berthoud faced a familiar foe – Tri-Valley Conference (TVC) rival Mead, who swept Berthoud in both matches the two played early in the year. The Lady Spartans were aware of the mantra that it is very hard to beat a team three times in a single season and took that small confidence boost with them onto the court.

The TVC foes fought it out back-and-forth in the first set, which Berthoud ultimately took by a 31-29 final, needing the extra points to win the hard-fought set. The Lady Spartans took the second set in more convincing fashion, winning 25-15 and always in control. The third and decisive set also needed extra points, or an extra point, as Berthoud won by a 26-24 final tally. Defense was big for Berthoud in the match with Mead as senior Kathryn Worrell tallied five blocks and Berthoud’s use of the 5-1 set seemed to play to the team’s strengths.

Berthoud has used both the 6-2 and 5-1 rotations during the year but settled in with the 5-1, with junior Trinity Penny serving as setter, being a primary cause of their strong finish to the regular season. As Berry explained on the switch to the 5-1, “I feel like switching to the 5-1 was primarily because we wanted to have Cas (Berry) hitting and passing and leading the team in a different way than she was before which really helped propel out scoring and helped (libero) Ally (Waller) settle in the back row.

While Berthoud dropped the following sets of the weekend to Longmont 3-0 (25-12, 26-24, 25-17) and Evergreen 3-1 (28-26, 21-25, 25-7, 25-10) the team resiliency bouncing back from nearly being eliminated from postseason contention midseason to advancing in the bracket at the state tournament demonstrated Head Coach Mil Santos’ team’s high-character and strong fortitude.

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