By Bonta Hill
Isabel Kuhel led Waldorf to a thrilling win against rival Bay 11-25, 26-24, 25-22, 24-26, 15-13 in a Bay Counties League Central with playoff implications on Tuesday at Annunciation Cathedral.
“Isabel had a great game now, and she’s definitely one of the best in the league,” said Waldorf head coach Jen WIsner. “She just has the extra edge to keep the team [motivated]. She’s really knowledgeable and she’s my voice on the court.”
Kuhel had a school-record 30 kills to go along with 13 blocks and five aces.
“That’s my personal record and I’ve never had that many kills,” said a grinning Kuhel. “It’s something I’m excited about.”
In a match that had a playoff intensity, it was Bay (7-13, 7-4) that set the tone early as they feasted on Waldorf’s unforced errors and breezed through the first game 25-11.
After the Wolverines (13-6, 8-2) ended the second game on two Kuhel kills, it was the third game that tested Waldorf’s mental makeup. Down 18-10 in the third game, Waldorf would storm back to take the lead and game behind more stellar play from Kuhel.
“I’m the team captain and it’s my responsibility to pull us out of a rut and encourage my teammates to get the energy back up,” Kuhel said.
Despite the momentum being on the Wolverines’ side, the Breakers gutted out the fourth game to send the match to a deciding fifth game.
However, Kuhel, with help from co-captain Kyra Walenga, would outlast Bay in the fifth.
“It would mean a lot to win the league championship back because they [took] it from us the past two years,” Kuhel said. “It would mean a lot to get some revenge back before I go to college.”
As the two-time BCL Central champions, Bay still has hopes to win a league championship and will enter league playoffs as a likely third or fourth seed.
Breaker coach James Scrivano was also critical of the officiating, as only one referee was present at the game.
“At the end of the day, it’s the responsibility of the schools to have two officials at the game, and for whatever reason that wasn’t done,” said a visibly frustrated Scrivano. “I feel strongly that if it was a full officiating crew, it would have been a different looking game.”
If the standings hold up, both teams will be facing each other next week in the first round of the playoffs.
“I know [Bay] will be out for blood next week, and it’ll be interesting,” Wisner said. “It’s a clean slate for everybody. As long as we should keep our mental game up, we should be good.”