Good things happen for the Century Patriots when Bailee Otterness toes the line to serve.
The 6-foot senior middle hitter sparked the Patriots with a couple of big serving runs in a big West Region volleyball match against St. Mary’s on Thursday night at the Olson Gym. That helped Century to a 30-28, 25-16, 25-18 victory over the Saints.
Otterness had a handful of aces during a 7-0 run early in the second game, helping Century hit its stride.
“That is a good rotation for us,” Patriots coach Jamie Zastoupil said. “And it’s so funny because in all reality, it probably shouldn’t be the best rotation for us, with the middle serving and no libero but that’s been a great rotation for us – our hitters really do a nice job splitting the blockers on the other side and our setters make some good choices. It’s proven all season long to be a good spot for us."
Otterness was also serving during a 7-0 run in the third game that helped turn a 14-12 Saints lead into an 18-14 Century advantage, putting the Patriots in charge for good on the way to a 25-18 match-clinching third-game win.
“And she did really well last weekend in Dickinson,” Zastoupil said. “She ended up with 15 aces on Friday, so she’s doing a good job serving and she’s doing a good job playing defense.”
For the second straight week, the Patriots posted a sweep in a battle of West Region contenders. Last Thursday, Century fought for a 29-27 opening-game win over Legacy en route to a sweep. This time, the Patriots trailed 24-23 after a Taylor Gerving kill to set up the first of four game-point opportunities for St. Mary’s (14-10, 6-4 West Region).
Century battled back, withstanding the four game-points and closing with three straight points, sparked by a kill from Otterness that evened the score at 28-28. A net violation and a shot out of bounds by St. Mary’s helped the Patriots pull out a 30-28 win.
“We have a lot of guts at the end,” Zastoupil said. “We need to really work on our peaks and valleys. We need to work on maintaining that and not getting in those deep valleys where we’re just giving up free points and we’re forcing our own errors instead of forcing errors on the other side. I’m proud of them for fighting through at the end.”
St. Mary's coach Kyle Kuether said disorganization proved costly to the Saints.
“I think we took ourselves out of our game by just not communicating” Kuether said. “We talked about staying in system and if we get out of system, then we still have to be aggressive and when we got out of system we just didn’t communicate that well. We had a lot of girls running around without knowing what to do and no real plan.
“I think it’s our young players right now," Kuether continued. "We’re not used to being in those situations, where we’re ahead of these good teams in the WDA. I think that will come with time and maturity. We did a really good job of getting up and then we kind of let it slip away with a few too many errors. But overall I think it was a good match for us to go forward into the second half of the season.”
Lauren Ware and Megan Anderson turned in some big plays at the net for the Patriots (14-6, 6-1 West Region). Ware, a 6-4 sophomore middle blocker, paced Century with 15 kills. Anderson, a 5-9 senior right-side hitter, added 13.
Otterness led the Patriots with three blocks, while Ware had two and Anderson finished with 1.5.
“We’re getting more confidence up at the net,” Zastoupil said. “Being all new to the court this year, it’s been a challenge to get that confidence. How do you build that confidence? I think matches like this, where you can be close in those sets really builds up that confidence.”
Katelyn Selensky finished with 18 assists for the Patriots and Mya Klein added 17. Allison Abel led Century with 11 digs and Chloe Markovic added 10. Otterness served a team-high three aces.