Power of positivity: Big Foot tops Brodhead in five
WALWORTH--The Big Foot volleyball team selected the word "positivity" as an inspiration heading into the season.
Too often in the past, the Chiefs thought they let tough situations get the better of them and sour their attitudes.
The positive vibes were tested Tuesday night against a Brodhead team ranked seventh in the state in Division 2 that beat them twice during a early-season tournament.
The Chiefs passed the test, rallying from a four-point deficit in the fifth game to win 21-25, 25-18, 21-25, 25-15, 15-13 to open the season in the new-look Rock Valley Conference.
"We've worked really hard in practice to keep up the positivity, because that's what we lack, pretty much," said Chiefs junior Kampbell Hehr, who had 35 assists, 26 digs and three aces. "That, honestly, everyone working hard and being positive, got us through the match.
"We have a big poster that says 'positivity,' and we slap it before we come out. We know we can do it and are a talented team, we've just got to stay positive."
Big Foot trailed 10-6 in the fifth, but head coach Caitlin Dowden gambled and didn't use her final timeout.
An unforced error by the Cardinals gave the serve to Hehr and the Chiefs. They got back into the match when Hehr set up two straight kills by sophomore Lahni Palmer and another by senior Payton Courier to make it 10-10.
"We are a team of streaks, and when you call that timeout, it's more of a mental break instead of just letting them do it," Dowden said. "They've proven that they just like to go out and do it."
Courier's block gave Big Foot the lead, and it never trailed again. Hehr capped the match with a liner from the back row that the Cardinals could not dig out.
Junior Abby Peterson led the Chiefs with 18 kills and three aces, while sophomore Sophia Foster had 27 digs and Courier finished with four blocks.
"We just know that we have to spread out our offense," Hehr said. "A lot of people know Abby is our go-to, so if we spread it out, they're less likely to block us."
Brodhead showed plenty of fight throughout the night. Senior Chandra Clark served 10 straight points to help the Cardinals rally in the first game, and they trailed by six early in the third before a 9-2 spurt seized momentum.
The fifth game was the first where Brodhead snagged an early lead. But the Cardinals could not finish off the road win.
"We don't know how to win. We like to sit back ... and we have to be able to be mentally tougher in those situations. We just don't know how to finish yet," Brodhead coach Erin Kammerer said. "We're fighters, definitely. They play sound volleyball and have good skills, we just can't finish."
Junior Abbey Johnson led the Cardinals with 20 kills and 25 digs. Clark finished with four aces and 25 assists.
For Big Foot, the victory was the fourth against a team ranked or receiving votes, heading into Thursday's showdown against perennial powerhouse East Troy. The Trojans, ranked fifth in Division 2, have spent the past few years dominating what was the Rock Valley North and will tangle with Big Foot--which had a long streak of Rock Valley South titles--in RVC play in the newly merged standings.
"We know that those other teams are talented. We've seen them in tournaments," Hehr said. "But Brodhead was a ranked team in the state, and we know if we can beat Brodhead we can compete against the other teams, as well."
BIG FOOT 3, BRODHEAD 2
Brodhead 25 18 25 15 13
Big Foot 21 25 21 25 15
Leaders: Aces--Chandra Clark (Bro) 4, Abby Peterson (BF) 3, Kampbell Hehr (BF) 3. Kills--Abbey Johnson (Bro) 20, Peterson 18. Assists--Clark 4, Hehr 35. Digs--Johnson 25, Sophia Foster (BF) 27. Blocks--Katie Goecks (Bro) 3, Payton Courier (BF) 4.