By Malen Blackmon
The Brookhaven College Bears volleyball team secured a 3-0 victory at home against rivals Richland College Thunderducks. Richland put up a fight in the third set, but was unable to avoid a sweep Sept. 17.
“They handled the pressure well,” Jason Hopkins, Brookhaven head volleyball coach, said after the game. He added that the team played with confidence from the opening serve, knowing how to outplay the Thunderducks.
Although the Bears struggled leading into conference play, the team’s chemistry and energy came together at the right time.
Home court advantage played a key role in the victory.
As Brookhaven piled on kills and points, the home crowd cheered and participated in post-point celebrations, providing increasingly competitive energy during extended volleys.
The Bears pressured the Thunderducks, keeping them on their heels the entire match. Richland committed countless unforced errors throughout the match which resulted in easy points for Brookhaven. The Bears strung together a series of consecutive aces which built momentum leading into the third set.
Bears outside hitter Alexis Hattaway and middle blocker Princess Hamilton led the team in kills, combining for 24 for the match. Hattaway also tallied 19 digs along with 18 by Bears libero Caitlyn Welge, who has the second most digs in the division, according to njcaa.org. Thunderducks outside hitter Lorena Perez totaled nine digs and nine kills for the match, but her efforts could not shake the Bears.
Hattaway said she felt confident about the team’s chances going into conference play and their goal to win a national title. She said teammates getting along with each other and having fun is a part of their team make up.
The Bears hold a 2-1 conference record as of Sept. 27. They will compete on the road against Trinity Valley College at noon Oct. 6.