Before the fifth game, the two teams prepared for the deciding match in drastically different ways.
Haynes Academy was tense and looked nervous in a tight huddle.
Berwick looked like it was playing a casual game at Lake End Park during a cookout with players dancing and encouraging the crowd to join them.
“I think that’s the key for this group — all along,” BHS coach Charlotte Menard said. “We’ve had real light practices all week. Yesterday ended up being comedy hour since they were being silly. But, they work well that way. They know when to buckle down, but when they get nervous, they really get tight.”
It’s not an approach that would work for every team, but the Lady Panthers won the fifth game 15-10 to complete the 3-2 win (24-26, 25-19, 11-25, 25-22, 15-10).
“They have to calm down, enjoy it and have some fun with it,” Menard said. “It’s a game, obviously it’s important, but it’s not life or death.”
The first game was close with the Lady Panthers trailing by less than three points most of the way before tying it up 23-23 after a Megan Fegenbush dink placed in a tough spot for the Lady Yellowjackets’ defense and a kill by Elizabeth Hover.
Fegenbush had 15 digs, four aces and four assists and Hover had 11 kills, 15 digs, two blocks and an assist.
“They were real nervous in that first game, real tight,” Menard said.
In game two, the Lady Panthers took control early with Abigail Ohlin breaking through a block at the net for a 10-8 lead. She later went on a serving streak to give BHS an 18-11 lead that would hold up for a 25-19 win to tie the match.
Ohlin had 38 digs and five kills; Morgan Mitchell had 25 digs and 18 assists; Elle Arcemont had five kills; and Maddie Gray had four kills.
Haynes was inspired in the third game, using a combination of tough kills from the back line scrappy defense hitting the floor for digs to take a 25-11 win.
Game four featured several long points with the teams tied 13 different times. Berwick held the biggest lead in the game at 15-10, but Haynes Academy came back to take a 19-17 lead.
The Lady Panthers stayed focused and won 25-22 to set up the deciding game. Berwick took a 7-5 lead in the last game. Once they seized momentum they didn’t let up and pulled away to take the game, 15-10, and put the team and fans into a frenzy.
Next up for the Lady Panthers is a trip to face the No. 3 seed St. Louis in Lake Charles on Monday at 6 p.m. St. Louis had a first-round bye as a top eight seed.
“Obviously it will be a battle, they’re third and we’re 19th,” Menard said. “We’re not supposed to be going there. They are very similar in that respect, very loud and group together after every point. Scream, yell, jump up and down. So, we’re going to have to go in with that same attitude.”