The Brandon-Evansville volleyball team was on the brink of trailing 2-0 at home on Wednesday night to the Underwood Rockets in its first match of the Section 6A South tournament.
After dropping the first set 25-20, the third-seeded Chargers (18-7) trailed the sixth-seeded Rockets (14-16) 22-18 before head coach Kelly Olson took a timeout.
"I don't think we ever got nervous," junior Bailey Schaefer said. "We got more determined. We knew our season was on the line. We just wanted to make a comeback and win. Coach (Kami Dingwall) stepped in and gave us a pep talk. She told us to play for each other and have fun out there. That's what we did."
After winning the point out of the break, Schaefer served the next six points as B-E evened the match with a 25-22 second-set win. The timeout changed the tide in the game in favor of the Chargers.
"They've been listening to me all year in the huddle. I sent Kami over there and let her talk to them," head coach Kelly Olson said. "Whatever she said to them kind of turned things around in those third and fourth sets. We were passing the ball well, and I don't like to take timeouts when we are passing well because it doesn't do us any good. We just wanted to rest a little bit and give them some time to think about what they want to do to us."
The Chargers had early leads in both of the first two sets. After a 9-5 advantage, Underwood tied the first set 10-10 before taking a 16-13 lead. B-E would knot things up at 18-18 before Underwood pulled away for a 25-22 win.
B-E hopped out to another early lead in the second set before Underwood closed the gap again. After a back-and-forth battle, the Rockets claimed a four-point advantage that led to Olson's timeout.
"(Underwood) played with a lot of energy," Olson said. "They were riding emotions, and I think you could see that after the second set. All of that emotion that they used didn't get them as far as it did in the first two sets. That's a tough way to play. We want to use emotion to our benefit, but we don't want to bank on it."
The Chargers found a rhythm in the final two sets. They outscored the Rockets 50-26 on their way to a 3-1 first-round win. Schaefer ended her big night with seven aces and 28 kills to help set up a date with second-seeded Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley (23-4) on Friday night at 7:30 at West Central Area High School.
"She gets her kills," Olson said of Schaefer. "If she has the hot hand like she did tonight, we want to give her the ball a little bit more. We like to have balance in our offense. When we need something, I think everybody on this team knows this; Bailey is one of the girls that is going to get the ball. She's a great athlete and can carry us sometimes."
The celebration was short-lived as the Chargers will turn around for another playoff matchup on Friday.
"We are excited right now, but tomorrow is a new day," Schaefer said. "We have to prepare for (CGB). They have good hitters, and they have good blocks. We have to play our best game and have fun with it. We have the talent to go far. This was a big win for us. Underwood is one of our rivals, but we are on to the next one."
The Chargers are familiar with the team CGB will put on the court. Not only did they meet this year in the Browerville-Eagle Valley tournament in early September, where B-E won 2-1, but the Wolverines beat the Chargers in the section semifinal last fall to end their season.
"CGB is fundamentally sound," Olson said. "They have a lot of talent around the court, and it's a group that has played together for a long time. I think this is about the fourth year that this group has been on the floor together. They are very similar to Underwood. We are going to have to play for each other, play in the moment and let the chips fall where they may."
B-E 3, UNDERWOOD 1
(20-25, 25-22, 25-12, 25-14)
B-E - Kailee Klimek - 10 kills, 12 digs; Bailey Schaefer - 7 aces, 28 kills, 1 block, 1 assist, 12 digs; Kristen Kokett - 1 kill, 28 digs; Brittany Korkowski - 3 aces, 1 kill, 1 block, 1 assist, 8 digs; Mikenna Pattrin - 13 kills, 1 block; Boris Jacobson - 1 ace; Korrie Randt - 45 assists, 9 digs; Haddey Zastrow - 2 kills, 1 block, 2 digs; Gretchen Bredberg - 1 ace