Panthers come from behind, top Belding

By Chip Burch • Last Updated 9:35 am on Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Belding’s Stefanie Harig, middle, attacks between Comstock Park’s Olivia Burdsal (7) and Kelsey Brennan (6) during the teams’ first game Tuesday night.

BELDING — Belding’s volleyball team was cruising to a victory over Comstock Park on Pink Night.

But the Panthers spoiled the night by coming from behind in the third and fourth games to win, then taking the final game for an 18-25, 23-25, 26-24, 25-23, 15-11 win.

“It just stinks that we’re on the losing end when we’re playing for more than a volleyball game,” Belding coach Mikayla Linebaugh said.

The Redskins (10-9-5, 1-2) were all wearing pink as part of the B Foundation’s Pink Week. Before the match Belding handed wooden pink “ribbons” to those who they were honoring for the cancer awareness night.

Once the match started the Redskins jumped on Comstsock Park (6-12-5, 1-1) early, opening the first game with an 8-2 run that caused Panthers coach Maribeth Johnston to call a timeout.

Comstock Park made a run, but Belding held on.

However, the Panthers jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the second game before Belding went on an 8-1 run to tie the game. The run finished at 13-1 and the Redskins took the second game despite getting tied at 23.

“Our hits were going down,” Linebaugh said. “Maybe we were a little quicker on defense. It was a good well-matched play.”

However the wheels started coming off in the third game. Belding jumped up 10-5 but the Panthers battled to 19-19. Belding went on a 3-1 run to force the second timeout from Comstock Park but a 6-2 run the other way gave the Panthers the win.

“Basically we don’t want to go to game five,” Linebaugh said she told her team after the third game. “Get game four, go out there and start with big momentum.”

Belding led by as many as six points in the fourth game but a 9-1 run by Comstock Park tied the match at two.

“They (Comstock Park) don’t like the 0-15 game and we’ve had to play that a lot the last week,” Johnston said. “We made two adjustments. One offensively, we pushed everything to the one-spot (left side). The other thing that we did on the outside hit was instead of playing perimeter defense we did rotation and we brought up our right back to cover under the block. That was the difference.”

Linebaugh had to change her lineup for the fifth game when Hannah Linebaugh started experiencing dizziness.

“Hannah, she gets dizzy and passes out real easy and she had some of that going,” Mikayla Linebuagh said. “So Heidi (Wilker, Belding’s athletic trainer) said, ‘Don’t start her.’ It kind of threw the lineup off a little.”

The two teams battled through the first two-thirds of the game but a crucial missed under-the-net call gave the Panthers a two-point lead they would never relinquish.

“(Monday) night in practice I asked my team what kind of effort they were giving based on five stars,” Johnston said. “The consensus was a three. I said in practice I’m not happy with a three. It should be giving a five in practice. We needed five (to win the fifth game), it was the fifth set, I needed a five-star effort. They (Comstock Park) took off after that.”

Belding got 19 kills and 27 digs from Stefanie Harig, 13 kills and 35 digs from Rachel Hunt, 43 assists from Brooke Linebaugh and five blocks from Carrie Smith.

The Redskins are off for a week and will travel to Allendale Tuesday.

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