Rachel McBride is the heart and soul of the Bellmont volleyball team.
This season she became the Braves' all-time leader in digs surpassing the 1,500 during Saturday's regional.
Maybe more impressive was the senior libero's composure and ability to rally her team, which was down two sets to none in the regional championship against NorthWood at Norwell.
The Braves snapped out of whatever funk plagued them in the first two sets and dominated the final three to earn a spot in the Class 3A semistate match Saturday against New Prairie at Plymouth High School.
“I've been around Rachel a lot, and I'm sure the things coming out of her mouth were mostly inspirational because it's her last chance,” coach Craig Krull said after the win. “She'll pull them together and get them all going in the right direction. It's fun to watch; they all kind of feed off of her and where she goes we go, and today it was the right way.”
McBride said it wasn't one thing they changed to stop the NorthWood domination.
“We all just kind of came together and realized like, 'Hey, look, we're done if we don't come together,' and we kind of played more relaxed,” she said.
Turning things around has been a theme for Bellmont (24-10). The Braves had a stretch where they went on a five-match losing streak, including the fifth to Heritage – a tough opponent, but one that doesn't typically beat Bellmont.
“This year, it was a really big learning year,” McBride said. “(Heritage) was a huge loss for us, and honestly, at this point in the season, that was the best thing that could have happened to us all season. After that game we all came together, we had team meetings, we set goals and this team is so different than past teams. We're a family, we really we are we want to work together, and we all want to win.”
Krull calls this an up-and-down season, but they're peaking at the right time.
“It's probably been the last two or three weeks where we've just had this 'Everybody knows their role, and everybody is just doing a good job in practice' to get better and better,” he said. “I think it was the understanding of what each kid has to do to make us successful, and they step up and go up and down sometimes, but they all know what to do. It's a total team effort that they found their roles.”
The Braves are led by senior Emilee Scheuman, who has 395 kills this season, sophomore Emma McMahon, who has 51 aces and senior Sarah Noonan, who has 959 assists.
New Prairie (29-7) has dropped only a single set in the postseason.
Bellmont's past three matches have gone to five sets, all of which could have gone either way. McBride said that's their MO – keep fighting.
“Everyone thinks we're out of it, but we're still fighting,” McBride said. “We're just trying to go out through every game and just prove that we can do it, no matter the rankings say and what our record says.”
If you go
Who: Bellmont vs. New Prairie
What: Class 3A Plymouth Semistate
When: 3 p.m. Saturday
Where: Plymouth High School