BRIGHTON — It had been nine days since Fairview last played on the court, winning 3-2 over then-No. 10 ranked Chatfield in a battle of ranked opponents.
In their return, the Knights cruised early and got back on track late against the Brighton Bulldogs. They would play four sets and won 3-1 to keep their undefeated season alive.
“It was good to have the break and to work on some things, but it was nice to finally get back on the court and to see if that work is going to transform our play,” Fairview coach Odette Edbrooke said.
In the first two sets, the Knights looked like a team ranked No. 5 in the current CHSAA polls. The offense continued to flourish with five players killing the ball from passes by new setter Sam Anthony. Kea Veenendaal led the offense with 11 kills, and coming in with nine were Grace Andrews and Maura Sharp unofficially. Six kills were recorded by Devyn Berg and Hayley Morgan.
Where the team showed its biggest improvement from the first part of the season to Thursday night came on the defensive side.
“Over the break, we really worked on defense and doing well as a team in serve receive and figuring out how to move as a team,” Megan Heilbron said. “We were just thinking it through and working as a team.”
Sharp had a big night for the Knights with 13 digs to go with her nine kills. Heilbron, the new libero, and Andrews helped Sharp on the back line with digs. They also received plenty of help at the net with Andrews, Kea Veenendaal and Devyn Berg recording blocks at the net or slowing down a handful of shots from the Brighton attack.
“We were seeing the ball better after all the drills over this break,” Heilbron said. “We just worked with it and everyone was in the grind. Maura (Sharp) was insane tonight.”
The defensive effort led to Fairview taking control of the first two sets 25-12 and 25-17 to take a commanding lead in the match.
Where the Knights are looking to improve moving forward, according to Edbrooke, is sustaining their high level of play and being more consistent on the court.
While Fairview won easily in the first two sets, they found themselves in a tight third set that saw them looking to rally from a small deficit. A 21-20 lead late seemed to give the Knights the momentum needed to get the sweep, but Brighton responded by forcing extra sets and then winning 26-24 to force a fourth set.
“We tend to have boom and bust cycles,” Edbrooke explained. “We had nine errors in that third set and only had eight in sets one and two. A lot of that ownership was on us, so it was really about coming back with the smarts to correct our mistakes and being able to put the foot on the gas.”
Edbrooke would see her team do just that with a scoring run midway through the fourth set to win 25-15.
Overall, Tuesday was a positive sign for Fairview as it made strides on the defensive end and is coming closer to being a complete team. More importantly, they kept their undefeated season alive for another week.
“I love it,” Heilbron said. “I love being 6-0.”