Having to adjust on the fly is one of the most difficult (and most important) aspects of any sport, especially when said adjustment takes a team out of their normal rhythm.
But after dropping the opening set to the hosts Palatine, Barrington did just that as the Broncos rallied to win 23-25, 25-10, 25-20 to remain undefeated in the MSL West with only three matches remaining.
“The first 15 points they played against us was as good of volleyball as we’ve seen all year. They dug everything and they were flying all over the place. ” said Ridenour. “We gained a little bit of confidence even though we lost the first set and finally in game two we got warm and we carried that into the third set.”
What made Barrington’s task even more difficult was that Tuesday’s matchup was essentially a must win for Palatine in regards to the conference title race.
Palatine showed that hunger on their home floor early as they dug up everything Barrington threw at them to take an early 8-3 lead.
The Pirates defense continued to shine in the first set, and although they were not able to put away many kills, they just kept putting the ball into play, frustrating Barrington to the tune of 12 errors.
After taking what seemed to be a commanding 21-12 lead, Palatine’s lack of fire power caught up to them, but Barrington’s late rally came up just short.
Building off the momentum created at the end of the opening set, Barrington opened up a 11-5 lead over the Pirates by changing their attack strategy by looking for tool kills instead of swinging for the 10 ft. line.
The biggest beneficiary of this change in tactic was junior outside hitter Gabe Hartke (14 kills), who seemed to master the sweep tip off the block in a matter of minutes.
“Gabe was struggling a bit in game one, but Gabe is one of the toughest kids that I’ve coached,” said Ridenour. “He came back in game two and three and was really good, and adjusting and seeing that shot was excellent.”
Before Palatine could comprehend what had just happened, the Pirates were on the wrong end of 19-7 scoreline as Barrington easily closed out the second set.
Not deterred by their poor second set, Palatine picked up their defensive play yet again to take a 9-5 lead in the final set behind Johnny O’Shea (five kills, five blocks).
After a timeout, Barrington responded almost immediately with Petar Lumovoc (eight kills, two blocks, four aces) doing damage from the net and behind the service line.
“Petar and our libero Kyle Vasquez just give us so much energy,” said Ridenour. “Petar is always fired up and he had a really nice night especially blocking.”
With the game knotted up at 10, senior outside hitter Michael O’toole took over. O’toole put away eight of his 19 kills in the final set to give Barrington a lead that they would never again relinquish to take the match.
Barrington will look to officially lock up the MSL West title in the next match against Fremd next Tuesday, while Palatine will compete in the Libertyville tournament this Saturday.