The Pleasant Valley High School volleyball team was coming off a huge emotional win last week, ending Bettendorf's 42-match Mississippi Athletic Conference winning streak on Thursday.

Burlington was hoping to pull an upset of its own on Tuesday against Class 5A's seventh-ranked Spartans, who were coming off an emotional high and had spent the last two hours sitting on a bus.

And for a time, it looked like the Grayhounds might give the Spartans more than they could handle. BHS led for much of the first game before the Spartans pulled out the win. Pleasant Valley then sped up its offense in the second and third games, coming away with a 25-20, 25-10, 25-11 win over the Grayhounds on Senior Night at Johannsen Gymnasium.

The Grayhounds got hands on almost everything the Spartans hit in the first game and had Pleasant Valley on its heels. It was the kind of confidence boost the Grayhounds need heading into Monday's regular-season finale at Davenport West and a Class 5A regional quarterfinal match next Wednesday at Muscatine.

"I think we came out strong just because we knew it was Senior Night and we knew they were a really tough team to beat, but we were going to play hard no matter what. We knew we had nothing to lose, so we just came out as strong as we could," said BHS senior outside hitter Tarae Warner, who had a match-high four blocks. "I definitely wish we would have kept playing the way we were in that first game. I know they are such a good team and they are built well. I was hoping we could do better, but it just didn't happen today."

"I'm proud of them from beginning to end because we knew that was going to be a tough game. They kind of let their foot off the gas a little bit at points. We talked about what a difference it could make if we could have come out and just came out swinging, came out blocking. We practice blocking. We practice the last couple of days blocking against big hitters. Our girls did a great job. They had tons of touches, a lot of blocks tonight. I told them if they come out like that every game the rest of the season, they're going to be a hard team to beat," BHS coach Amber Taeger said.

BHS (7-18 overall, 0-8 MAC) left it all on the court in the first game. Pleasant Valley (24-2, 8-0) scored the first two points, but the Grayhounds stormed back. A spike by Angel Baylark and a kill by senior libero Emily Bloomer helped the Grayhounds open a 4-2 lead. With Baylark and Warner taking control of the net and the BHS defense digging up everything the Spartans hit at them, BHS never trailed by more than four points in the opening game.

BHS pulled within 22-20 on a Pleasant Valley hitting error before the Spartans put the game away on a pair of kills by 6-foot-2 middle hitter Elissa Moylan.

The Grayhounds lost the first game, but showed they could play with one of the best teams in the state.

"We knew that's something they would do if we let them. We know that they're a team that's really up and really down. They've had a couple big wins and they've a couple of big losses. We knew they were a beatable team, even if we could take part of that first game. We had small goals. Be the first to five. Be the first to 10. The goals that we had set for ourselves in that first game, we blew every single one of them out of the water, aside from taking that first game from them, which we very well could have done," Taeger said.

"I thought Burlington did a great job blocking and making us work a little bit harder on those cut shots. That's great for the matches coming up in the postseason," Pleasant Valley coach Amber Hall said.

Pleasant Valley, behind senior setter Brooke Harris, sped up its offense in the second and third games, nullifying BHS's block. Harris mixed things up, using quicks, shoots and slides to keep the Grayhounds off-balance and utilizing hitters Moylan, Emily Wood, Alana Woolison and Erica Brohm, who combined for 30 kills. Harris put up 28 assists.

"Brooke Harris does a great job running that quicker offense and having our hitters utilize those opportunities," Hall said. "I felt like our defense picked up things a little bit faster. They were able to anticipate some of those hitters that Burlington has."

"I think we let it get to us that we lost and we just shut down. We didn't have the momentum that we had in the first game right away," Warner said.

With regionals on the horizon, Taeger likes the way her team is progressing and playing with confidence.

"I think we're just going to have to play harder and realize we can do it. We can play as hard as we can every time like we did that first game," Warner said. "We play Muscatine next and we want to win against them because we played four games with them. We know we can play as hard as they can, so we want to do that, too."

"Even our JV and sophomore girls, I complimented them. They fought hard every point. Tonight all around, even though the scoreboard doesn't show it, they fought all around. It's been some of the better volleyball we've played all season. It was really exciting to watch tonight. They're getting confidence," Taeger said. 

Burlington

Kills — Angel Baylark 4, Bailey Wiemann 4, Emily Bloomer 2

Assists — Madison Bunton 10, Kinzie Parrish 3

Serving — Tarae Warner 1 ace

Blocks — Warner 4, Kylie May 3, Baylark 3

Digs — Bloomer 7, Parrish 7, Wiemann 3, Natalie Spear 3, May 2

Pleasant Valley

Kills — Elissa Moylan 11, Emily Wood 7, Alana Woolison 6, Erica Brohm 6

Assists — Brooke Harris 28, Kelsey Ruff 6

Serving — Wood 2 aces, Ruff 2 aces

Blocks — Woolison 2, Moylan 1, Brohm 1

Digs — Harris 11, Adrea Arthofer 8, Wood 7

Records — Pleasant Valley 24-2 overall (8-0 Mississippi Athletic Conference), Burlington 7-18 (0-8).