Defending Big Northern East champion Richmond-Burton held an ace Tuesday in Penn State-bound star Ali Frantti, but Burlington Central held all of the rest of the cards.
Burlington Central used balanced offense, a defense that dug up plenty of Frantti’s bullet hits and came up with 10 aces to end a seven-match losing streak to Richmond-Burton with a 26-24, 16-25, 25-15 victory.
“We were able to play really good sideout volleyball,” Rockets coach Marv Leavitt said. “Our passing was solid. We were setting good and when we were hitting we weren’t predictable where we were going to go with the ball.
“We had several people who could get the ball, so they did a nice job.”
Key among them was junior hitter Emily Bozich, who stepped in for one of the team’s key weapons, injured Laure Wiltsie, and delivered a team-high 12 kills. Frantti had a match-high 22 kills
“That’s big time,” Leavitt said.
Bouza’s biggest kill might have been one to break a 24-24 tie in the first set after a Frantti kill. Then a Richmond-Burton error on a return gave Central the set.
Wiltsie will be out more than a week following arthroscopic knee surgery, but all the Rockets attackers helped make up for her absence. Outside hitter Jenna Schudel had 10 kills and middle Makenna Jenssen had nine, including a running swat to the floor to end the match.
“We were getting the middles involved and it opens up our outside and right side then and gives us more opportunities,” Bozich said.
The Rockets couldn’t keep Frantti down in the second set, but the blockers and libero Allie O’Reilly made sure Frantti didn’t have a lot of uncontested spikes on the night. O’Reilly finished with 29 digs.
Central led 18-9 in the third set before Richmond-Burton (5-7, 3-1) ever put together consecutive points.
“We set up a good block,” O’Reilly said. “It’s hard. She’s great. We just had to read her arm strength.”
It also didn’t hurt that Central had assistant coach Mitchell Wiskirchen imitating Frantti in practice during the week with bullet hits to prepare Central.
“He’s 6-2 and he can jump out of the gym,” Leavitt said. “He was a four-year college volleyball player. He was just pounding on us the last couple days. It really helped.”
Central (9-4, 4-0) had three aces each from Jenna Schudel and Alyssa DeTamble.
“It’s been (three years) since we beat them so it was like a really big deal for us to win it,” Bozich said. “It was really exciting.”