The Bethlehem Academy team is finding glimmers through a demanding opening stretch to the season.
The Cardinals dropped to 0-3 on the season after Tuesday’s 3-0 loss (25-18, 25-20, 25-22) at Class AA No. 1 Stewartville (3-0), their second loss to a top-10 team in the state.
BA has also seen AA No. 5 Marshall and a Class AAA Eden Prairie team that sits at 7-1 and could push for a top-10 spot soon.
The Tigers jumped out to big leads in each of their first two sets. The Cards still made them work for 25 points.
“We played with more energy and determination tonight,” said BA coach Chris Bothun. “We did a nice job digging up some pretty strong hits and our blocking game was on more tonight. We started out the first two sets down 2-11 and 1-10 and worked our way back into both games. The third set was a slow start, but we did not dig ourselves in as deep as the first two sets. We did a decent job of reading the setter and digging up a lot of tips sent our way by Stewartville.”
BA improved by two points each set.
The Cards finished 57 of 61 serving (.934) with three aces.
Senior outside hitter Haley Lang led BA with eight kills and 13 digs. Junior libero recorded 23 digs, sophomore Kaitlyn Kotek had 14 assists and junior middle hitter Kennedy Tutak had two solo blocks, four assist blocks and one ace block.
“We’ve played some pretty tough teams this past week,” Bothun said, “which is helping us identify our weak areas and will only help make us a stronger team.”
BA opens the Gopher Conference season 7:15 p.m. Thursday at Blooming Prairie (4-5, 0-0 Gopher). The Awesome Blossoms have wins over Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton, Glenville-Emmons, Chatfield and Albert Lea. Their losses are to Randolph, Goodhue, Byron and twice to Austin.
Stewartville 3, Bethlehem Academy 0
B — 18 20 22
S — 25 25 25
BA statistics — Kills: Haley Lang 8; Kennedy Tutak, Lexi Boyd 6; Kate Trump, Ellie Cohen 2; Lindsay Hanson 1 …Assists: Kaitlyn Kotek 14; Reagan Kangas 5 … Solo Blocks: Tutak 2; Boyd 1 … Ace Blocks: Hanson 3; Boyd 2; Tutak, Lang 1 … Assist Blocks: Tutak 4; Lang 2; Cohen 1 … Digs: Brianna Radatz 23; Trump 14; Lang 13; Kangas 12; Tutak, Kotek 5; Cohen 3; Malia Hunt, Hanson 1 … Ace Serves: Hunt, Radatz, Kangas 1