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Bridgeport spoils 2-0 lead against Sutherland, Lady Sailors win in 5

BRIDGEPORT, Neb. - A clash of C2 teams took place Thursday night in the ‘Dawg Pound’ at Bridgeport High School as the Lady Bulldogs (17-3, 6-0 C2-12) took on the Sutherland Lady Sailors (12-6, 1-1 C2-11). Sutherland hosted this match last year and won in five sets which ended a three-match losing streak versus the Lady Bulldogs. Back at home where they had totaled a 7-0 record thus far through the 2017 season, Bridgeport wanted revenge, especially with it being senior night.

The match couldn’t have gotten off to a better start for the Lady Bulldogs as senior Emily Baxter sent them on a 6-0 run to begin play. The early momentum carried through and despite Sutherland cutting the deficit to just two points twice, Bridgeport secured the first set victory, 25-18. After her start behind the service line, Baxter showcased her hitting talent throughout the first set totaling seven kills.

BaxterThe second set was kept much closer by the Lady Sailors as neither team went on a run of more than three. Behind the inspired Baxter, and excellent defense, Bridgeport was able to take a 2-0 lead in the match winning 25-17. Sutherland had only been swept twice this year, Cozad and Chase County, but the Lady Bulldogs had them on the ropes heading into the third.

With their backs against the wall, the Lady Sailors found their sea legs in the third looking much more comfortable on offense. Senior setter Morgan Hoatson started feeding fellow senior Haiden Kreber and junior Erica Hopping who combined for nine kills in the set, unofficially. The rhythm allowed Sutherland to hold a 20-16 lead, but Bridgeport fought back going on a 4-0 run of their own behind another senior, Brittany Newkirk, who recorded four kills in the third. All tied at 20, the Lady Bulldogs needed just five more points to close it out and secure a sweep. Sutherland, however, pulled away with a 5-2 run to force a fourth set, 25-22.The succeeding set played out identically to the third. The Lady Sailors continued to feed their hitters and, despite several excellent digs from the Bridgeport defense, were successful in doing so as they won 25-23.

Just like last year, the Lady Bulldogs and Sutherland were going to a fifth and deciding set. The Lady Sailors won it 15-7 last season, but with Bridgeport being at home, could they now turn the tables and come away with a hard fought win?

The momentum built up by Sutherland carried over into the fifth as they jumped ahead early and had match point leading 14-9. The Lady Bulldogs were able to add another point, but on the next rally, sophomore Payton Hoatson sent a set from her sister, Morgan Hoatson, down to the back row to clinch the comeback win 3-2, 15-10.

The Lady Sailors were led in kills by junior Erica Hopping, the team leader entering the evening as she finished with 17 kills, unofficially. Right behind her was Kreber with 16 of her own and five blocks. Hoatson, the setter, recorded 49 assists. As for Bridgeport, Baxter earned player of the game leading all players with 27 kills. Newkirk recorded 16 of her own while also adding two aces, and junior setter Kyler Watts had 58 assists. The team finished with 65 kills total, a new single-match record.

Sutherland will remain on the road to take on Maywood/Hayes Center (15-5) out of Class D2 District 9 next Tuesday. As for the Lady Bulldogs, this Sutherland match started a murderer's row of matches moving down the stretch. They’ll take the court again next Thursday on the road against Mitchell (16-2, 4-0 C1-12), a squad that swept them earlier this season.

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