The Belmont student section shows their support for senior Megan Bailey, who recorded her 1,000th career assist last week in a victory over Inter-Lakes. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
September 30, 2013BELMONT – Though the Belmont High School volleyball team has seen three different coaches run the program in the last four years, the Red Raiders have had one constant during that span: Megan Bailey.
The senior setter, who has been a leader on and off the floor since entering as a freshman, made her mark on the record book last week. Bailey became the first player since Kristin Ellis in 2000 to reach 1,000 career assists at BHS, as she surpassed that total – and then some – in a 21-25, 25-23, 14-25, 25-19, 15-11 come from behind win over Inter-Lakes High School on a wild night in her home gymnasium.
"I've been working towards this for four years," said Bailey, who entered the night with 990 career assists. "I'm just on top of the world right now."
The big moment came in the second set. With Belmont trailing 19-15 and already down a frame after an opening 25-21 loss, Bailey took a dig from libero Jessie Bergeron, and set fellow senior Alyssa Woods for a kill that saw the packed gymnasium erupt and halted the match briefly for recognition of the milestone.
"This is the first time this has ever happened to me as a coach," said BHS coach Missy Miner of a player reaching 1,000 assists. "It's just amazing to be a part of it. I've known Megan for about three years with (Junior Olympic volleyball) and it's just great for this to happen to someone who works so extremely hard."
With the match progressing and the Red Raiders struggling in the early going, tension mounted on the court. Bailey admits it was difficult keeping her mind clear and focused on the match at hand with a large crowd cheering her every move.
"I was trying not to count (as I went along) but every now and then I'd look up and see the countdown going on in the crowd," Bailey said. "I was relieved once it happened and we were able to concentrate."
Belmont crawled back into the second set and eventually got on a roll late, with kills from Shannon Conway, Alyssa Woods and Louisa Bergeron leading to a 25-23 victory.
While Belmont had the momentum from Bailey's big moment and the Game 2 win, Inter-Lakes settled in and dominated the third frame, breezing to a 25-14 win.
"Errors after errors caught up to us and it's hard to come back from a situation like that," said Miner of the struggles in Game 3. "But going into the fourth we just said that we can't afford to make any more errors. We wanted to get to a fifth game."
That's exactly what happened, as Belmont turned an 11-11 contest into a 20-15 lead thanks to a pair of kills from Louisa Bergeron. Bailey added a kill of her own in the frame, and a net violation on the Lakers handed the Raiders a 25-19 win to set up a decisive fifth set.
"It was obviously a big night here with everything going on," said I-L coach Randy Mattson referring to Bailey's quest for 1,000. "It's always tough when there's an emotional crowd and we were battling that all night. We struggled with unforced errors and let that get the best of us."
The Raiders got off to a great start in the Game 5 sprint to the finish, as a Louisa Bergeron kill gave the hosts a 4-0 lead. Inter-Lakes trailed by 7-2 after a timeout, but the Lakers climbed back within 11-9. But Belmont wouldn't be denied, and kills late from Conway and Jessie Bergeron set up match point, where senior Bridget Annis came through with her biggest swing of the night, putting down a kill to secure a 15-11 win and hand the Raiders their biggest win of the season.
"I think we're never a team that's given up," said Bailey of the comeback. "We just kept pushing to get to five games and after that, we were able to pull out a win."
It was a huge win for a Belmont team that hadn't dropped a single set during its first five matches. But the level of competition rose significantly when Inter-Lakes came to town. The Lakers were arguably the hottest team in Division III coming in, as they had won five straight matches including victories over powers Winnisquam and Moultonborough Academy.
"This was a huge, huge win," said Miner. "(Inter-Lakes has) beaten the top teams and we didn't really see any teams like this so far. It shows we can do it I think, we can be one of those top contenders."
Bailey finished her record-breaking night with 32 assists, and she added six digs and five aces to aid the cause. Woods totaled 11 kills and five digs, while Annis (three kills), Jessie Bergeron (five kills, 25 digs) and Shea Callahan (three kills, two blocks) all played key roles in the victory.