By ADAM SHINDER
Recorder Sports Staff
TOWN OF AMSTERDAM -- Nine days earlier, Amsterdam High School senior middle hitter Jordann Bernardo had collapsed during the middle of a non-league game against Gloversville, smacking the back of her head on the AHS court as she passed out. Wednesday, Bernardo was back on her home floor for the Lady Rams -- and it was right in the nick of time.
Bernardo posted five kills and a block in her return to the lineup, while Bayley Archinal led the way for Amsterdam with 12 kills as the Lady Rams swept their way to a 25-21, 25-17, 25-15 victory over Catholic Central.
"I just wanted to get back on the court," Bernardo said.
After the serious scare barely a week earlier, Amsterdam head coach Christine Sherlock said that Bernardo showed no fear in her return to the court.
"She didn't seem very afraid to hit her head. She was diving all over the court," Sherlock said. "It was good to have her back."
Perhaps most importantly, Bernardo's return gave the Lady Rams an added presence alongside Archinal in the middle of the floor that Sherlock said the team had been sorely missing during her absence.
"This year, for the first time, she's playing back row. Last year, she could really only play front row, but she's really completed her game," Sherlock said. "We need her just as much in the back row as we do in the front row, and she made a difference today."
The Lady Rams (4-5 Big 10) showed plenty of energy right out of the gate, reeling off the first six points in the opening game. But, when Catholic Central responded by rattling off the next eight points to take the lead, Sherlock was concerned that her club might fall into what has become a pattern in Amsterdam's losses this season of letting opponents take command for long stretches of matches.
This time, however, the Lady Rams quickly tightened up, and after trading the lead throughout the middle portion of the game, Amsterdam finally took control and finished off the opening game when Archinal's serve was deflected out of bounds by Catholic Central's Sam Dame.
"There was one point I thought we had a little sag and we would go back to our old ways, but they played very well," Sherlock said.
From that point, the Lady Rams felt the momentum swell against a Catholic Central team that, while it entered the year as defending Big 10 champion, has struggled throughout the campaign after sustaining heavy losses to graduation.
"We beat them last time we played them, so we knew we could play them," Archinal said. "We had better communication, better chemistry, came together and got the win."
Amsterdam kept up its strong play in the second game, with Bernardo and Archinal each providing key blocks to push out the lead before Brooke Baglione's shot out of bounds handed the Lady Rams a 25-17 win. Amsterdam then sprinted out to a 22-8 lead in the third game -- getting six straight service points from Bernardo to cap the run -- and when CCHS' Jenah Schnellbaecher drove her attempted spike off the net and into the ground, the Lady Rams had a three-game sweep.
Archinal and Bernardo led Amsterdam from the middle, with Katie Ressel providing the conduit for the Lady Rams' attack with 16 assists.
"They were a little bit of a weaker team than some of the other teams in the Big 10, but we'll take the win," Sherlock said. "I was able to get everybody to play and play pretty well."
The win leaves Amsterdam with a simple scenario heading into Friday's home match against Bishop Maginn: Win and get to .500 in league play, thus qualifying the Lady Rams for the Section 2 playoffs.
"It was a big deal, because this made us 4-5 and we need to be 5-5 for sectionals," Archinal said. "We've got Maginn Friday, and we've got a good chance to win, so this was a big win."