The Brandon-Evansville volleyball team had one last match this season to create a lasting memory with each other, and the Chargers did just that under tough circumstances.
On their home court and with a winning team in town, the Chargers fell in a five-set thriller but proved to themselves that they could compete with one of the best teams in their section. Park Christian finished its season at 10-1 after a seventh straight win on Friday night, but it took finishing off a 17-15 win in the fifth set to beat Brandon-Evansville.
“Although no one wanted the season to end like it did with Governor Walz pausing the season, at least both teams (Friday) night got to end the season on their terms, with their play deciding the outcome, and got to walk away with something special to remember about this weird and crazy time,” B-E head coach Kelly Olson said. “We talked before the match about how not many teams get to know when their season would end. If they played in a state final, third place, or consolation final they would know, but this is as close to that as they would get.”
The Chargers went out and made the most of it. They won the first set 25-23 to gain some early momentum before Park Christian won a back-and-forth second set 31-29. The Falcons took the third set 25-19 before Brandon-Evansville forced the fifth set with a 25-14 win in the fourth.
“The first set, we were down by seven or eight points and with Bailey (Schaefer) moving back to the serving line we were in trouble,” Olson said. “She served extremely tough and brought us back into the set. We had some huge blocks by Gretchen Bredberg, and we somehow fought out a first-set victory. We started set two really strong, and it seemed like we would get up by three or four points and Park Christian would come back. Both coaches were out of timeouts by the time we hit 26-26. No one wanted to give in, but Park Christian found a way to finish us off.”
The whole match was filled with long rallies by both teams. The Falcons just had the last one. Brandon-Evansville led 14-12 in the fifth set, but Park Christian clawed back for the win.
“We had our best front row in with Korrie (Randt) back to serve,” Olson said. “She almost got an ace, but Park somehow popped it back over. Our dig was up, but we had to push the ball over. They killed the ball to make it 13-14. They had a tough serve dribble over the net and we got it up, over and they sent another push back. A small miscommunication saw that ball fall, making it 14-14. Those last points taking it to the final score of 15-17 were some of the best volleyball of the night. We came up short on the score, and I am not one for moral victories, but not one kid, or coach or fan walked out of this match disappointed.”
The Chargers were able to celebrate a special season that ended with a 9-3 record and another milestone for one of their players. Schaefer passed the 1,000 kills mark for her career early this fall, and her setter, Randt, got the 1,000th assist of her career on Friday.
Randt started her career as an energized leader from the bench when she was a young player in the program. She turned herself into the lead distributor of this offense and ended with 55 assists against the Falcons.
“Ending the season playing Park Christian the way we did was the best way to go out,” Randt said. “That was one of the most fun games I have ever played over the years of being on the team. This season, we got a lot thrown at us but there wasn't a better group of girls to make the best of it."
The Chargers got contributions from all over the court. Mikenna Pattrin had 15 kills and eight blocks. Kylee Dingwall (26 digs), Schaefer (24 digs) and Grace Otto (22 digs) led the way from the back row, and Schaefer wrapped up her standout career with a team-high 34 kills.
“Although it wasn't the senior season we had hoped for, I am happy we got a season,” Schaefer said. “A couple of months ago, we didn't think we would get to play, so I am thankful for the time we did get. (Friday) night was all about mental toughness. We were all in the same boat. This was the end for both teams. We just had to stay focused and play point by point. It was a fun, intense match and Park Christian is a really good team. I've enjoyed my time as a Charger volleyball player and I will miss it all."
PARK CHRISTIAN 3, BRANDON-EVANSVILLE 2
(23-25, 31-29, 25-19, 14-25, 17-15)
B-E - Grace Otto - 22 digs; Bailey Schaefer - 1 ace, 34 kills, 2 blocks, 24 digs; Kylee Dingwall - 1 ace, 7 kills, 3 blocks, 3 assists, 26 digs; Mikenna Pattrin - 15 kills, 8 blocks, 4 digs; Taylor Yeats - 1 ace, 2 kills, 18 digs; Korrie Randt - 1 ace, 1 kill, 55 assists, 7 digs; Gretchen Bredberg - 3 kills, 2 blocks, 5 digs