MAHOMET — Stan Bergman has said it himself: His volleyball attack system is not one learnt overnight.
So just how did his new Mahomet-Seymour athletes fare in their first official go-round with Bergman’s offensive style, during Tuesday’s season opener against visiting Champaign Central?
“Which set?” Bergman asked with a laugh.
How about the first, which the Bulldogs lost?
“I might give them a two,” Bergman said. “And this is based out of 10, too.”
So not a great start.
The latter two sets, though, which went in favor of the hosts?
“Second set, probably a seven. Third set, eight,” Bergman said. “We didn’t miss a whole lot of serves second, third set.”
The Bulldogs made Bergman’s home and team debuts positive memories, earning a 21-25, 25-19, 25-17 triumph over the Maroons on the back of balanced offense and timely defense.
“The first set we kind of had first-game jitters. We weren’t as focused,” senior Lauren Minick said. “Second and third set, I think we really buckled down and got to business.”
That included Minick and juniors Ainsley Ranstead and Josie Hess getting their swings going for M-S (1-0). Perhaps the turning point in that regard was Ranstead snapping a three-point run for Central (0-1) midway through the second set with a booming kill along the bench side.
The Bulldogs produced eight of the game’s final 14 points from that spike en route to turning the tide.
“Our serve-receive (game) was struggling in the beginning,” Ranstead said, “so I knew that we had to score when we could, and our sets have been doing really good.”
M-S pulled away around the same period in the tiebreaking set, fueled partially by sophomore Haylie Orton throwing up a critical block on Maroons junior Mira Chopra, a University of Michigan commit.
“We were hoping that we could try to keep them out of system as much as we could, just based off of serve placement or where we were trying to place the ball defensively,” Bergman said. “Swings, tips or rolls — we were just really trying to keep them out of a rhythm that they had in the first set.”
“It was awesome seeing Haylie working so hard ... especially because she’s younger,” Minick added. “She definitely fits in really well with us and is really positive.”
Though Central couldn’t overcome its Champaign County rival for the second consecutive year, suffering a two-set defeat at Combes Gymnasium in 2018, Maroons boss Mike Deterding wasn’t fretting Tuesday.
“I liked what I saw,” he said. “We held in there, serve-receive-wise, which was good for us. ... We’re ahead of where we were last year at this time, and when everybody shows up (that’s even more true).”
Chopra finished with nine kills to go with seven kills from senior Elise Bossenbroek, as well as six kills and seven digs from Kitty Rossow, whom Deterding said is “carrying a pretty big load as a junior” by contributing in nearly all statistical categories.
The Maroons still appear to be working through the loss of six seniors from last year’s Class 3A regional champion club, including current Illinois freshman Rylee Hinton.
“It doesn’t hurt, but they were very comfortable playing in those roles,” Deterding said, “and right now we have some juniors that are playing pretty big roles.”
Bergman sent out four seniors in his starting lineup versus Deterding’s two upperclassmen, further proving that point.
Regardless, M-S won’t take an early victory for granted.
Especially with the Bulldogs trying to find consistency in their set-by-set rating from Bergman.
“I usually try not to look past the first (match) ... but looking at Central, St. Joe, (then) we’ve got Unity,” said Bergman, referencing M-S’s upcoming slate. “It’s early for both teams, but just getting that first win is obviously a big deal.”