DeKALB – Courtney Bemis leaped in the air on match point of Thursday’s win over Yorkville, connecting with the ball at the apex of her jump as her 6-foot-3 frame rose high above her defender.
The Foxes had no chance as the ball came crashing to the ground, like it did on eight of Bemis’ other hits, and the DeKalb volleyball team won, 25-18, 25-21, largely thanks to Bemis’ breathtaking athleticism.
Although the Miami (Ohio) commit is far from the finished product she wants to be, Barbs coach Ben Fisher saw confidence and focus from the senior Thursday that might put her over the top.
“This is one of the better matches she played,” Fisher said. “You could tell she came ready to play and focused tonight. I was happy to see that. If you ask her, I’m sure she would say that she can play better. … She did enough for us to win. She did well tonight.”
Of course, Bemis is far from the only weapon the Barbs have, and several were on display during a first game in which they coasted to victory, bursting out to a 17-8 lead before clinching the game behind three late kills from senior Alexis Hammond, who had five on the night.
Yorkville held strong in the second game, taking a 20-19 lead before two kills from senior setter Madison Lord and two more from Bemis gave DeKalb (10-2, 4-0 Northern Illinois Big 12 East) the win.
The Foxes (12-6, 2-2 NI Big 12 East) lost several seniors from last year’s conference championship group.
But they still boast an impressive record, and they still have first team all-conference hitter Jordan Albarran, who gave the DeKalb defense fits all game.
Courtney Wagner had three blocks on the night, Morgan Newport had three aces and Nicole Schladt recorded 14 digs as the Barbs made a statement against a team that beat them twice last year.
“I think this was kind of an opener to show we are kind of ready to play this year,” Hammond said. “We stayed focused in our game, and I think that’s what helped us win. We knew the second game they were ready to come back. They did good. This is some of the best competition we’ve played so far.”
If they win next Tuesday against Morris, the Barbs will have swept through all five NI Big 12 East teams during the first half of their conference slate. That type of start would be reminiscent of the 2010 and 2011 DeKalb teams that lost just one game combined on their way to two outright conference championships.
While Bemis and Hammond stopped short of comparing this year’s team to those groups, they’ve shown that similar dominance may be on the horizon.
“We do have a lot of firepower on this team,” Bemis said. “We know we have good potential here, so we’ve just got to work hard and get to where we can be.”