By DOUG DONNELLY
MADISON TOWNSHIP – Whiteford volleyball coach Janie Bunge had seen that look in her team before.
Just as the Bobcats looked like they were going to go toe-to-toe with five-time defending Tri-County Conference champion Madison Monday, the Trojans got hot, went on a 7-0 run and dashed Whiteford’s hopes for an upset.
“We tend to let one rotation, or one server get the best of us,” Bunge said. “We had one server tonight that did that to us. When she got back there, she’d get six or seven in a row. It’s a confidence thing. We get down, our shoulders go down and we can’t seem to pick ourselves out of it.
“You take that one rotation out of it, and we win that game.”
Madison swept Whiteford 25-21, 25-16, 25-12. The Bobcats played well and made Madison work for every point but came up short. Bunge said confidence is what has been keeping the Bobcats from getting past the proverbial hump.
“It’s been our issue from day one,” Bunge said. “It’s not their abilities. It’s believing in themselves and responding to adversity. I thought we played great volleyball. We can’t let one rotation define us.”
Whiteford got out to a 10-6 lead in the opening game, forcing Madison to call a timeout. Coming out of that timeout, the Trojans got a tip from senior captain Abby Weber to fall. Weber then served Madison into a 11-10 lead and a 14-10 advantage.
Whiteford later closed it to 18-15, and back-to-back aces by Ava Hillard made it 23-21 before the Trojans pulled away.
Game two was similar as Whiteford led 5-3 and 6-5 before seven straight service points by Weber made it 15-6. The third game was all Madison, although the Bobcats pulled within 13-10 at one point.
Allison Spradling and Anna VanBrandt had 12 digs each to lead the Bobcats in the match. Alaina Andrews had 14 assists while Kenzie Gray, Aly VanBrandt and Spradling had four kills each. Hillard had three aces.
“Allison played a great back row,” Bunge said. “She sometimes plays all the way around and sometimes just swings, but tonight she played a really good back row for us. And Anna had to be libero last two games and she killed it in the first game.”
Bunge’s Bobcats dipped to 5-3 in the TCC and 7-13-2 overall.
Madison improved to 33-4-3 overall and 8-0 in the TCC. They are in the driver’s seat for another league title. They also won their 49th consecutive TCC volleyball match, setting a league record. They came into the match tied with a Morenci team from the late 1980s that had also won 48 straight.
“Whiteford is tough,” first-year Trojan coach Heather Lanning said. “They have played us tougher than any other TCC team.”