Pilots sweep the Lancers in Crossroads volleyball semifinal

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The pressure was on, the gym was packed and a rival was staring at them from across the net. But none of that hindered the Bethel College volleyball team on Thursday night as they swept the Lancers of Grace College in the Crossroads League semifinals. The Pilots came in leading the season series 2-0, however those were both hard-fought matches. As the no. 1 ranked team in conference, the Pilots had the bull’s-eye on their backs. So the Lancers came out ready to play. A back-and-forth first set had Grace looking to put themselves in position for a potential upset. But the Pilots hung tough and kept fighting. They took the set 25-23.
The Pilots' teamwork has them headed to the conference final after sweeping Grace on Thursday night.
The Pilots' teamwork has them headed to the conference final after sweeping Grace on Thursday night.
And if you had not gotten enough of the excitement the first time, the Pilots and Lancers decided to follow the exact same script in the second half. Gritty play, hard-fought rallies and small leads were once again the storyline. And the ending was exactly the same as well – 25-23 Pilots. Now here is where you would expect the Lancers to come out and make a statement. Their season was on the line. But the Pilots didn’t want to leave any doubts or questions about who the best team on the court was on Thursday night. They came out firing. Thunderous spikes from players like Alicia Carlton and Aubrey Husak got the crowd into it early, and the remarkable play of setter Morgan Fox gave the Pilots a controlling 8-2 lead early. Every time that it seemed as if the Lancers were making a comeback, the Pilots would snatch momentum back to their side. As the third game continued, it was clear to see that the Pilots did not want to mess around at all. They meant business, and that business was getting to the Crossroads League final. They did that after a 25-17 win in the third game, giving them a 3-0 sweep for the night. After the game, Head Coach Kevin Ulmer talked about how his players were able to deal with being the top seed and come through with the victory. “We had to battle,” he said. “One thing we always talk about is constant pressure. One of my assistant coaches said that and I really like it. We need to put constant pressure on the other team.” He also said that the team’s composure was a key factor. “We never get too high and we never get too low,” Ulmer said. Fox led all players with an astounding 35 assists. She felt that the Pilots mindset going into the game was a big key to the victory. “(We were thinking) the same thing as always…beat them in three,” Fox said. “We had a game plan and hopefully we were going to execute it.” It seems that they executed the game plan pretty well. But she says the Pilots also had some help from the fans. “It was an intense game, but it was the perfect atmosphere,” Fox said. Husak led all players in hitting percentage for the game (.333) and was second in kills (12) behind Carlton (13). She was also thankful for all the Bethel blue in the stands. “It’s nice to see that Bethel is supporting us,” said Husak. She was excited about the win, but Husak also had her eye on the real prize. “It seems right to play (Indiana Wesleyan),” she said. It will indeed be a matchup of the top two teams in the conference final on Saturday night here at Bethel. The game between the Pilots and the Wildcats begins at 7 p.m. The winner is the 2013 Crossroads League Champion. Tweet Follow @BeaconBethel
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