By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – Nadia Anderson made it back, just in time for a final bow with her Bedford North Lawrence classmates. After suffering a devastating right knee injury during last spring’s tennis season, she worked her way back to take the court for Senior Night.
Now in a Hollywood script, Anderson’s last-second curtain call would have included a win. Perfect ending, right? But this is real life, and Loogootee spoiled the movie. Cast in the role of antagonists, the Lions roared like Leo, the MGM mascot, and took a bite out of BNL’s celebration.
Loogootee conquered the Stars in four sets on Thursday night, concluding the regular season with a tough 25-22, 21-25, 25-20, 25-22 triumph. The big-picture story was the honoring of BNL’s four surviving seniors and the surprise return of Anderson, who spent most of the season as a sassy line judge with flag in hand and evil-eye glare for anyone who didn’t like her in-or-out decisions.
Anderson joined fellow seniors Kendlyn Alvey, Isabelle Harding and Camryn Anderson for the traditional pregame ceremony. After escorting their parents to midcourt, after tears and hugs, flowers and photos, they did their best to lead a young team past a seasoned, talented opponent.
The Lions (20-7) were just too tough, especially when forced to raise their game and match BNL’s emotional intensity. The Stars were even in sets and ahead 14-7 in the third when Loogootee turned things around.
“Going into that game, our girls were like ‘They have big hitters, we don’t know about this,’” BNL coach Whitney Carroll said. “I think they surprised themselves. We’re playing good volleyball right now, we just have to keep believing. They just need to believe more and more.
“When things are working in well, when we get things set up and get that ball high and tight on the line shot, they couldn’t stop that. They amped up their serving a little, our passes were off, and we couldn’t get the set where we needed it to be. We had to fight and chip away.”
Senior middle hitter Madison Ramsey was a menace at the net for the Lions, cracking 17 kills. Cacia Wilcoxen had 11 kills and Sydnee Wittmer totaled 24 assists.
BNL’s stat leaders included Camryn Anderson (14 kills and 24 digs), Alvey (20 digs), Sammie Gratzer (14 kills), Trinidy Bailey (33 assists, 14 digs) and Suttyn Alvey (6 service aces).
Winning would have been better, but BNL’s improved level of play was evident.
“There’s been ups and downs,” Harding said. “It’s important that we all stuck together and had each other’s backs. It’s really fun to see us fight for every point and every ball, not give up.”
“It was exciting to see us happy and winning,” Nadia Anderson added. “I got to be a part of that.”
As the regular season closed, the seniors got a chance to reflect on their journey. From a miserable two-win season a year ago, they are now 7-20. That doesn’t seem like much, but it’s a vast improvement. The life lessons have been invaluable.
“Not everything will be given to you,” Camryn Anderson said. “I have to work hard for everything that I want to do.”
“All four of our seniors are solid athletes, they make big-time plays for us,” Carroll said. “Nadia thought she was going in, play one ball and get the heck out. And she stayed in there and got every ball on target, I think she surprised herself.”
The most impressive part of BNL’s rebuilding is the fact the roster includes no juniors. So many sophomores and freshmen, so many possibilities.
“Our sophomores are going to step up,” Alvey said. “They will be the leaders for this team. They will fill the holes.”
BNL will now have a week to prepare for the postseason. The Stars will meet Jeffersonville in the IHSAA sectional at Seymour on Oct. 12.