Kirtland vs. Berkshire volleyball: Hornets overcome errors to claim 3-1 victory, CVC Valley title

Oct. 4—It was a playoff atmosphere in Burton when Berkshire welcomed Kirtland for the CVC Valley match Oct. 4. Both teams looked to build some momentum for the upcoming postseason in a back-and-forth match.

After a very quiet first set, the second and third saw a lot of unusual issues with Kirtland's play that allowed the Badgers to stick around.

Then in the fourth set, the two went on a long run of trading points back and forth before Kirtland rattled off the final five in a row to take the win, 3-1. The victory also secured an outright CVC Valley title for the Hornets.

After a smooth first set, the next two sets saw Kirtland fall behind the eight-ball and make errors and untimely fouls. The Hornets were able to recover long enough for them to win, 25-23.

In the third set, though, the errors caught up to Kirtland as it was unable to keep up with Berkshire and saw it take the set with the same score. Coach Arlayna Newcomer knew that wasn't their style of play and took the time between the third and fourth set to regroup and get back in their rhythm.

DeJohn again and it's a one point third set @kirtlandsports #NHVolleyball

— Ben Hercik (@BHercikNH) October 5, 2022

"We usually do a good job of staying confident when we're pressured," Newcomer said. "I don't think today was our best day of that, but we found a way to get the job done and played with some more composure over the other two sets that we won today."

The fourth set saw Kirtland race out to a five-point lead, but again Berkshire rallied back to make things interesting. After they tied up the set at 11 points each, the two sides then traded 18 of the next 20 points to keep the game tied at 20 before the Hornets took the final five points.

One of the big pieces in the victory was Natalie Glowe, as she recorded 20 kills in the contest to lead the Hornets. She highlighted everyone working on the front line to be ready for the Badgers' attack.

A solid night for @kirtlandsports Natalie Glowe. She talked about the win and work that the team did as a whole for the victory #NHVolleyball

— Ben Hercik (@BHercikNH) October 5, 2022

"We need to work on picking up balls and not letting our serves go for free points," Glowe said. "Our blocking and defense is big for us, and we have to have that working and know that it's something that we need to keep winning. I think it paid off in the end and worked well tonight. Covering is a big thing for us as well, and at times that does mean having everyone up at the net."

The win not only marked the Hornets' fifth in a row but locked up the outright CVC Valley title, the fourth in a row. It is also the fourth since Newcomer took control of the program.

While it's another banner for the gymnasium, she knows one will always hold a special place in her coaching career.

"It's a little more special since the streak started in my first year," Newcomer said. "I think for me this year has been special for a few reasons. Yes, we've had a good season overall but this is also the first class I've seen all the way through at Kirtland."

For Berkshire, it was another case of coming up short in a big match. It has been the Achilles' heel for the Badgers all season as they also played the Hornets close in their first outing as well as teams such as Lutheran West and Perry down to the wire.

Coach Joni Prots knows her team has the ability to win the big matches but needs to find a way of playing them close and coming up short to convert those to wins. With the postseason a little over two weeks away, she hopes the result in this match can serve as a stepping stone.

Great job by Maddie Smetana to keep the point alive and Washell gets the point @BHSBadgerDen #NHVolleyball

— Ben Hercik (@BHercikNH) October 5, 2022

"We took care of the ball a lot better in those sets," Prots said. "We had about 12 unforced errors in that opening set, and that gave them a good lead. We cut down on it a lot the rest of the way. We had some better defense and better touches at the net, so we had some better play in the next three sets. Some of it is a mental aspect. I think that winning Game 3 tonight is a big step and will help us get over the hump."

The Badgers were led by Maddie Smetana, who recorded 18 kills and 16 digs. It's another challenge for Berkshire its next time on the court when it welcomes Independence on Oct. 6. Kirtland continues its challenging late stretch of games when it hosts Lutheran West the same day.