VALLEY — Fremont Bergan volleyball coach Sue Wewel expected a tough test from Douglas County West on Thursday and that is exactly what the Lady Knights got.
Junior Lauren Baker hammered 20 kills to spark Bergan, ranked sixth in Class D-1 by the Omaha World-Herald, to a 20-25, 25-19, 25-21, 25-22 win over the Falcons.
“I knew going in that DC West would be a tough match-up,” Wewel said. “They are very scrappy on defense and they keep a ball alive very well. No. 13 (Chloe Foral) does a great job in the middle for them and that was my main concern as we went into this match.”
Foral, a 5-foot-11 senior, had four kills to spark DC West to a win in the opening set.
“We dug ourselves a hole in the first game and just couldn’t recover, even though we gained momentum at the end of the set” Wewel said. “Going into the second set, we did a great job of serving, stepped up our passing game and we were getting some good touches on the block.”
The second set was tied at 9, but Allie DeGroff’s kill started a 6-0 run by Bergan that also included one of Kaia McIntyre’s five ace serves on the night.
McIntyre’s serving was just part of a solid game by the 5-5 senior setter.
“Kaia had an amazing game both in the dig department and keeping the ball alive and setting it to our hitters,” Wewel said. “Every time she steps on the court, she gets better and batter. With this being her first year of setting varsity, I’m very proud of the progress that she has made.”
McIntyre finished with 45 set assists and five digs.
A pair of McIntyre aces helped Bergan break to a 4-0 lead in the third set. The Falcons, though, stayed in contention. A Leah Bevington kill cut Bergan’s lead to 22-21, but a pair of DeGroff kills helped the Lady Knights close out the set.
DeGroff finished with a career-high 17 kills and added 17 digs
“Allie is such a power hitter, but I thought she did a great job of placing the ball tonight and working a lot of her shots that we practice every day,” Wewel said.
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DeGroff was hardly alone on the attack. Baker had a career-high 20 kills while adding four blocks and 11 digs.
“Baker works so hard in practice hitting the ball to different sports on the court,” Wewel said. “It paid off tonight as she moved the ball around and kept DC West’s defense on their toes.”
A Katie Nelson ace and kills by Graci Rittenhouse and Foral helped the Falcons jump to an 8-2 lead in the fourth set.
A Bevington kill put the Falcons up 15-11 before Bergan started to rally. The Lady Knights scored eight of the next nine points to go up 19-16. Bevington pulled the Falcons to within 22-21, but a pair of Baker kills gave the Lady Knights match point. Emma Walz ended it with a kill.
Walz finished with 10 kills, eight digs and three blocks.
“Emma had a good night,” Wewel said. “She really got up well on the block.”
Hannah Frost added three kills, six digs and two aces. Kennedy Bacon had two kills, two blocks and 13 digs. Rebecca Baker had 12 digs while Kaitlyn Mlnarik contributed six.
“It was a total team effort, but it was needed as DC West is a very good team with a lot of weapons,” Wewel said. “They play great defense.”
Foral led the Falcons, 7-3, with 17 kills.
Bergan won the junior varsity match in two sets.
Bergan, 10-6, will face Wahoo Neumann and Lincoln Lutheran on Tuesday night in a triangular in Lincoln.
“These are huge match-ups for us in our (Centennial) conference schedule,” Wewel said.