BREMEN | Bishop Noll coach Dave Rodriguez called a timeout in the fourth set with his team down. He told one of his players still wearing a warm up t-shirt to turn out.
Rodriguez asked his team to read the slogan the Warriors have played under all season: "Eyes on the Prize."
Noll turned things around after that, winning the fourth and fifth sets to top Woodlan 25-21, 20-25, 23-25, 25-19, 15-7, win the Bremen semistate and take one step closer to that state championship prize.
It's the first semistate title in the program's history.
"Honestly, at one point in the fourth set I was starting to think about the positive things I was going to tell them about this season," Rodriguez said. "But they gained focus, got it together, played with reckless abandon and got it done."
BNI's seniors made big plays at big moments all day. Asya Hobbs's blocks and kills drew oohs and aahs from even the Woodlan crowd. Carissa Jones (12 kills, four digs) seemed to be in the right place at the right time. Carly Cappello (21 kills, nine digs, three aces) tallied a kill almost every time Woodlan appeared poised to make a run.
"I talked to the team and I said, 'You have to want it, because I don't want to go home. I'm a senior,'"said Hobbs, who added 20 kills, eight block kills and seven digs. "Our coach always said that there's a domino effect to everything, so as captains we take on that leadership to have the first domino fall and then everything falls into place."
Bishop Noll (30-9) jumped out to a quick 12-5 lead in the first set. It never lost that lead, but Woodlan controlled the momentum in the second and third sets.
The combo of Brooke Gerbers and Tori Bontrager was a powerful one for Woodlan (26-8). Gerbers had 36 assists, mostly to Bontrager who finished with 26 kills.
The pivotal fourth set was tied as late as 17-17. BNI finished that set with a 7-2 run.
"I knew if we got to a fifth set, we would win it," Rodriguez said.
The Warriors are now the most accomplished team in school history.
"They're all healthy; they're all ready to go," Rodriguez said. "This ain't over."