As Game 3 of Thursday night's nonconference battle between Batavia and host Glenbard South was in its final stages and with the Bulldogs holding the lead, the cheers from the Batavia bench grew louder with every scored point.
Like most teams, Batavia is going to appreciate every victory. But this one was a little more special.
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The Bulldogs, a successful team in their own right, dispatched a team that had built a pretty long resume to this point in the season. Batavia downed the No. 14 Raiders 25-18, 23-25, 25-22 to move to 15-11 on the year. Glenbard South stands at 25-6.
More proof that this was a battle between two tough teams came today when the Class 4A seedings were released. Glenbard South is the top seed in the Class 4A Morton sectional, and Batavia is fifth in the Geneva sectional.
"We knew Glenbard South was a good team. It's exciting. It's definitely good to beat a team like that," said senior Heather Meyer, whose 14 kills were second only to Shea Stanley's 15 for the match.
The crucial point of the final game came when Glenbard South pulled to within 17-16 on a Batavia hitting error. The Raiders would not be closer the rest of the game. A Meyer kill put her team up 22-18. Glenbard South cut it to 2 twice, but the Bulldogs held on for the game and match victory.
"I knew this was going to be a tough match. They ran a lot of different things I wouldn't expect," said Batavia coach Lori Trippi-Payne. "We executed our game plan pretty well. We tried to take advantage of their weaknesses and tried to keep them away from their strengths."
What also assisted the Bulldogs is the steady diet of top teams on the schedule. Batavia has faced No. 1 St. Francis, but also deals with No. 4 St. Charles East, No. 7 St. Charles North and No. 11 Geneva in Upstate Eight Conference River Division play.
"We love playing tough competition. With each match we get better and that's exciting to see," said Batavia setter Audrey Faulhaber, whose 35 assists was a personal high.
Glenbard South was led by Sydney Bauman's 9 kills, Tarah Valdez's 8 and MacKenzie Watterson's 7. Coach Chad Grant said the Raiders' play was solid except for one thing.
"Our blocking has got to be better. It's as simple as that. We had 19 blocking errors and if we convert those points, we can win the match," he said. "I'm very happy with the way we played. Batavia is a tough team. We did what we needed to do. We just came up short."
With Tomei Ball serving late in Game 2, illegal hits by Batavia gave Glenbard South a 24-22 lead. A kill by Batavia's Shea Thayer cut it to 1, but soon after a Batavia hitting error gave the Raiders their 25th point.
Batavia controlled Game 1 most of the time, jumping out to an 18-9 advantage with Glenbard South getting only as close as 6 after that.