Hullender leads Bearette victory

By PATRICK MacCOON
Posted 9/11/18

For those who are looked upon to show the way, earning their stripes every day is important.While not a spotlight seeker, lone senior Kaitlin Hullender was a leading force in Bradley Central's 3-1 …

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Hullender leads Bearette victory

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For those who are looked upon to show the way, earning their stripes every day is important.

While not a spotlight seeker, lone senior Kaitlin Hullender was a leading force in Bradley Central's 3-1 victory over Rhea County in a non-distinct volleyball match at Jim Smiddy Arena Monday night.

On a night where the Bearettes were sharp with no more than one service error in the four sets, their focused leader showed authority.

Hullender, a two-sport athlete, provided a major boost with five kills in an eight point stretch for Bradley to help lead a crucial third set victory.

"Kaitlin is always worried about everyone else and less about herself," BC head coach Christie McElhaney said. "She is a care taker and a great leader. She fired us up tonight. Her energy brought the rest of us up."

With each powerful slam, excitement consumed the Bearettes who bounced back from a 25-22 loss in the first set to win three straight by the scores of 25-22, 25-16 and 25-23.

Hullender was not alone in asserting a strong presence in the middle as junior Kierstyn Viola was also a strong finisher high at the net.

The powerful combo combined for 18 kills (11 Hullender), while each blocked three shots.

"Our team came together in the second set and lifted each other up," Hullender said. "I told myself I was going to help us get this win and we all followed through."

"It's important for me to be a leader. I want to leave this team in better standing for years to come."

Bradley (11-12) was led in kills by junior hitter Amelia Reuter, who finished with an impressive 37.8 kill percentage on 14 slams.

A pair of freshman outside hitters in Ashlan Crittenden and Mary Smith combined for 12 kills and had a hand in most points. Both had smoking hits to help finish off the Golden Eagles.

From keeping their composure in lengthy battles for points to a 96.4 successful service percentage, the Bearettes flashed consistency all around the court.

"We usually miss four or five serves a set," stated McElhaney, whose team had nine aces. "Tonight it was one of our biggest strengths. The girls were really enjoyable to watch. They made it fun for me as a coach to watch."

Also keying the victory for Bradley was sophomore Kelsey Carman with 10 digs and 40 digs.

Junior libero Taylor White was solid in the back with 47 digs, while Autumn Allen recorded 20 digs and 24 assists. 

Riley Sermons helped set up strong finishes with 27 assists and also was one of three to have two aces.

With a strong senior leader and those under her clicking as of now, the Bearettes hope to carry their momentum into a home District 5-AAA match with Ooltewah Thursday.

"We went four games with them (Lady Owls) in our first meeting this season," McElhaney said. "We really want to bring the same energy out and win it. We will be ready to battle for five sets. 

"Something clicked with everyone today. We did not panic and stayed with our power. Hopefully we can get a big win Thursday."

Bradley last beat Ooltewah on Aug. 24, 2012, when they swept the match. Later they would finish runner-up to the Lady Owls in the district tournament.

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