Don’t Bet Against ‘Em: Barnegat Cruises to Sectional Final After Dominating Performance Against Collingswood
Barnegat-- All season long, the Bengals have played crisp volleyball and have never took their foot off the gas.
Sometimes, when culminating a run throughout postseason play, rare forms can come out. Streaky play, miscommunication or just not having your a-game are just some of those. Not for the Bengals.
While the Bengals knew that their sectional semifinal matchup against No. 4 Collingswood would be no easy cakewalk, the Bengals knew that if they continued to play like they have over the course of 24 games that it would be more of a challenge directed at the opposition.
"The chemistry we've been able to bring to the floor every game has made us significantly better as the year's gone on," Coach Emily Dancisin said. "We knew since day one that we'd be a strong team, but you just never know how everything is going to come together. I've been extremely proud of this group everyday and they continue to play their top game."
The Bengals knew that if they wanted to advance to their second sectional final in the last three years that they would need every ounce of everything from all contributors on the roster. Sure enough, like it's been so many times throughout the season, it came together once again.
The first set proved to be a challenge for Barnegat, needing to command and control the tempo early. Barnegat took Collingswood's opening serve, setting Isabella Pavan up for the opening kill. After scoring point one, the Bengals never looked back.
As the first set continued to progress, the lead continued to expand for the Bengals. A strong 4-2 run out of the gate saw expansion of the lead quickly. Allison Haggerty provided her first kill of the game, showing the versatility in the squad.
"One of the biggest things for us is that we don't have one bonafede superstar," Coach Dancisin said. "We have all different playmakers throughout the court. I mean you look and see Ashley out there. You see Izzy; Allison. There's so many different names that makes a difference and it keeps other teams constantly on their toes."
Annabella Fraim, as she's been all season, was an assist machine throughout the match. Fraim and Haggerty had the chemistry working all day, setting up another assist-to-kill to give the Bengals an 8-5 lead.
Haggerty continued to play her best volleyball throughout the first set, garnering another kill and expanding the lead to four at 10-6. And while Collingwood would continue to claw their way back into the set, Fraim would shut that down immediately. Fraim dropped in a gorgeous serve to keep the momentum rolling at 12-8. You could see the Bengals were gelled together while Collingswood was still trying to figure it out.
The Bengals were able to go on a four-point run, bringing the lead to six, which led to Collingswood taking a timeout. As The Big House continued to roar, the Bengals knew that the only thing they could do was keep that foot on the gas and continue the dominance they showed throughout the first half of the set.
While Collingwood was able to get two out of the timeout to cut the lead back to four, Pavan took authority into her own hands and generated another beautiful ace, flustering the opposition once again.
Collingswood was able to go on a three-point run to chop the lead back to three before Ashley Berger came onto the scene, providing a much-needed kill at 19-15.
Haggerty, as she did all match long, continued to provide a major spark for the Bengals with another kill to hold the lead at four.
It was Brooke Degrazio's turn up at serve and she delivered in a huge way. Degrazio came through with four straight service points which included two more Bengal aces, giving the Bengals an eight-point advantage.
Collingswood was able to trim it back to five before the Bengals served and took the opening set at 25-19. While the Bengals were one set away from an appearance inside the sectional finals, the Bengals knew that they had to carry over the momentum they had all first set.
"We've made some slight adjustments to the way we approach the game as the season has gone on, but nothing crazy," Coach Dancisin said. "Just having the depth we do makes our game come together so much stronger. Again, the offense isn't surrounding one player. We don't have anybody that's ridiculously tall. Everybody has their own set of skills that they bring, which makes this team so well-rounded."
The barrage of aces continued to pile on as the second set unfolded. Fraim started off back on serve, leading off with an opening ace.
As Collingswood got their first point, the Bengals got their first five. Taralynn Charland was on serve for the Bengals, bringing home back-to-back service points which included an ace.
Pavan took over for the Bengals, going on an incredible run. Pavan delivered eight straight service points, four of which were aces, to open the floodgates for Barnegat at 13-2.
As the Bengals have done all season long, they carried the momentum over from their opening set and ran with it.
Shelby Randolph joined the fun at serve, delivering an ace of her own and expanding the lead out to 12. Degrazio came back on serve and continued to tally up the ace counter, bringing the lead out to 15.
The Bengals closed out the second set without a threat, winning by a remarkable 20 points in the sectional semifinals. Serving was the name of the game for the Bengals all match long, bringing home 16 aces out of 28 service points.
While the Bengals know what their capabilities are, they may have even been a little shocked at how challenging they were as the opposition. There's a reason why this team has won 21 games and earned the No. 1 seed inside South Jersey Group 2. They're extremely well-coached, the depth on the team is remarkable and everybody has their own set of skills they bring to the table.
The Bengals waltzed their way to their second sectional final in the last three years, looking to add another championship to their banner.
While they'll be up against No. 2 Pleasantville on Tuesday, the Bengals know how deep of a team they are. They've done it all season long and have an opportunity to do it once more on the biggest stage inside their home court. 25 games later, the Bengals have waltzed their way to a sectional final appearance. What's to say the waltzing won't continue come Tuesday?
Collingswood Key Performers:
Madeleine Golia: 7 Digs
Sienna Urbaniak: 6 Digs
Barnegat Key Performers:
Ashley Berger: 6 Kills, 3 Digs
Annabella Fraim: 16 Assists, 5 Digs, 4 Service Points, 3 Aces
Brooke Degrazio: 8 Service Points, 5 Aces, 5 Digs
Allison Haggerty: 6 Kills
Isabella Pavan: 10 Service Points, 5 Aces, 4 Kills, 3 Digs, 1 Block, 1 Assist