Chargers claim Little Eight Conference title
It was a match to remember in Evansville on Thursday as the Brandon-Evansville volleyball team came from behind to win a four-set match that gave the Chargers the 2013 Little Eight Conference title.
With Battle Lake coming into town up a game in the win column in the conference standings, the Chargers battled through a slow start to win the final three sets of the match. The winner of the match was set to win the conference, and the Chargers did not disappoint their home fans.
Thursday’s match fell on the final home game of the year, one that celebrated the careers of the four Chargers’ seniors. Megan Kokett, Kinsley Randt, Caroline Jansen and Kristine Betterman all played their final regular season home game as seniors.
“It was great to get a win on senior night,” head coach Kelly Olson said. “It is a special group of young ladies here at Brandon-Evansville this year.”
Battle Lake won the opening set of the match 25-14 to take an early lead, but the Chargers battled back. They flipped the score and won the second set 25-14 to even the match at 1-1. Olson said after the first set, he noticed the Chargers’ players relax and pick up their focus.
“I thought both teams began the game trying to see what was going to happen, and Battle Lake took control of set one before we did,” he said. “But I thought we did a good job on the floor even with the score being so heavily in their favor. We were just missing our serve receive, and I knew it would come around.”
After a slow start, the Chargers’ players said they were able to click as a team.
“We weren’t playing happy, we weren’t playing as a team,” Kokett said about the first set.
The players also felt their attitudes change, which helped them win the next three sets.
“I think we wanted it more after we lost that first set,” said Randt, who also picked up her 1,000th career assist earlier that week.
The Chargers maintained their momentum through the third set, taking a big early lead on their way to a 25-19 win.
The fourth set was close the whole way through. The Chargers were down early but rebounded to tie it late. Both teams had set points towards the end, but the Chargers were able to finally win one to come out on top with a 28-26 win.
“Set four was some exciting volleyball on both sides,” Olson said. “Battle Lake held the lead most of that set, but we were always within striking distance.”
Hundreds of vocal fans from both Battle Lake and Brandon-Evansville were in attendance for the decisive match. The Chargers’ players were nervous playing in front of a fired up crowd, but they also enjoyed the enthusiasm.
“It was stressful, but it was fun,” said Randt. “We’ve never had that before, so it was a good experience for all of us.”
Olson was thankful for the fan turnout and said the community should be proud of their support for the team.
“It was the loudest I have ever heard it,” Olson said. “That fan support does so much for a team and cannot be overlooked at the end of the match.”
Emma Friedrich led the Chargers with 14 kills in the match, and Jansen was second with 13. Randt led with 38 assists. The Chargers had three players who contributed double-digit totals on defense. Kokett led with 26 digs, followed by Mariah Hansen with 17 and Friedrich with 14.
The win gave the Chargers an 8-1 record in the conference this season and 16-9-2 overall. The final matches on the regular season schedule were on the road against Wheaton/Herman-Norcross Monday and Parkers Prairie Tuesday.
MATCH RESULTS BRANDON-EVANSVILLE 3, BATTLE LAKE 1
(14-25, 25-14, 25-19, 28-26)
B-E – Mariah Hansen – 9 kills, 17 digs, 2 blocks; Kinsley Randt – 2 kills, 28 assists, 2 aces, 9 digs; Caroline Jansen – 13 kills, 1 assist, 2 aces, 3 digs, 1 block; Emma Friedrich – 14 kills, 1 ace, 14 digs; Kylee Hansen – 5 digs; Diane Campbell – 9 kills, 3 digs; Megan Kokett – 26 digs; Katie Kokett – 1 assist, 2 digs; Toni Wright – 1 kill, 1 assist, 4 digs