Marv Leavitt called it a "trap game".
It's that game you know you're supposed to win but after a tough road loss the night before and the goings on of homecoming week, Leavitt had cause to be a little concerned when his Burlington Central girls volleyball team hosted Marengo in Big Northern East action on Rocket Hill Wednesday evening.
And even though Marengo was the aggressor early on, Burlington Central's superior defense and serving won out in the end as the Rockets notched a 25-14, 25-17 win just 24 hours after suffering a tough 3-set loss at Richmond-Burton in a battle for first place in the conference.
"We had a little jet lag from (Tuesday) night," Leavitt said. "This is that trap game; the night after an emotional game, and homecoming ... there were some distractions. We started slow and in the first game we weren't passing real well and that's a strength of our team. But we're a strong serving team and I thought our serve took over the match."
And how. After Marengo (3-2 BN-East) bolted out to a 4-0 lead in Game 1, BC fought back and brought the opener within reach, eventually making it a 1-point game each way between a 7-6 Marengo lead and an 11-10 Indians advantage. But a kill by senior Lexi Bouza made it 11-11 and gave Rockets' senior Karrington Bell the serve. Before Marengo could break Bell's offering she had served up 2 aces, used a MaKenna Jensen kill and a couple of Marengo errors to give the Rockets (12-6, 4-1) a 17-11 lead. Marengo closed to within 18-14 when the Rockets hit out of bounds but a nifty dump kill from Bouza moved her to the serving line and with 5-foot-6 sophomore Lauren Wiltsie hitting like a 6-footer, Bouza served out the set.
"(Tuesday) night was tough," said Bell, who finished with 4 aces including one on match point. "We played our hardest but R-B is a good team. We had a lot of distractions with homecoming but we were able to relax today and by game time we picked it up and got ready to go."
Bell said all she was trying to do when she got the serve in the first set was help her team.
"When I go in I just say let me get the ball in and get on a run and help my team as best I can," she said.
The second set was never really in doubt after the Rockets moved it from a 5-4 game to 9-4 with Bouza at the line and Wiltsie providing another kill around a Bouza ace and a Marengo error. Leavitt was able to use some different lineup combinations and give some reserves playing time, and those combinations helped Central move ahead 22-13 before Marengo made a mini-run and brought the set back to 22-17. But two Marengo errors made it 24-17 and set up Bell for her match-ending ace.
"We're pleased with where we're at right now," said Leavitt, whose team doesn't have a player taller than 5-foot-10. "We've been really competitive all year, every set, with the exception of one against Joliet Catholic. We know who we are. We're a good defensive team that can serve you tough."
Junior libero Allie O'Reilly led BC's tough defensive effort with 23 digs, while Wiltsie had 9 kills and Bouza added 6. Senior setter Jess Emrich dished out 20 assists for the Rockets.