MAHOMET — Stan Bergman’s vision was playing out perfectly Monday night.
His Mahomet-Seymour volleyball players were mixing up their shots. Getting their hitters going on the pins and striking the ball down the lines.
The result was a 23-19 lead over Normal U-High in the opening game of a Class 3A Mahomet-Seymour Sectional semifinal.
That’s when the dream began to fall apart.
“We just couldn’t get the ball placed,” Bergman said. “We just squandered away ... points and just did not finish the first set.”
Instead, the Pioneers snagged a 25-23 first-game win and dominated the second set to the tune of a 25-16 score, eliminating the host Bulldogs from the playoffs.
“It would’ve been a much different second set (if we won the first),” Bergman said. “We would’ve had much more energy. We would’ve understood we had them up against a wall.”
Instead, U-High (31-6) repeated the outcome it produced on Sept. 19 against M-S (30-8), persevering in the minimum amount of action.
“They controlled everything going on in the second set,” Bergman said. “They controlled our side in the second set — emotionally and making us run around and get the ball.”
That directly opposed what transpired early in the bout. Ainsley Ranstead and others took plenty of good swings after well-placed sets from Kayin Garner.
The effort was backed by a raucous home fan base that left Bergman thrilled despite the final score.
“You should’ve seen our crowd,” Bergman said. “The girls said they’ve never ever seen a volleyball crowd as big as the one we had (Monday). I’ll bet we had 75, 80 high school kids there.”
Ultimately, it’s another indicator to Bergman that what he’d hoped to accomplish over a longer period of time with the Bulldogs is happening much faster.
His initial year with M-S generated the team’s second regional championship this century and 30 wins, as well as genuine hype around the squad’s activity.
“We’ve got some great people in place to make volleyball successful,” Bergman said. “I hope that we will get kids committed to the program, get kids committed to volleyball.”