BRIDGMAN – In a late-season battle for first place in the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference Red Division, the Bridgman volleyball team moved one step closer to a conference title by defeating Brandywine 23-25, 25-18, 25-17, 25-20 on Wednesday.

“We talked about being the aggressors,” Bridgman coach Jim Ragosta said. “We started with our serve; we’re a pretty aggressive serving team and we tried to take them out of the things that they like to do. You can’t give them anything easy because if you do, they’re too good. They’ll make you pay for that.

“I couldn’t ask for anything better. We stuck to it and didn’t get rattled.”

The Bobcats held off the Bees in the first set after a back-and-forth battle, but were unable to capitalize on the momentum. The Bees rebounded from the setback and took control of each ensuing set’s second half to win.

“Jim (Ragosta) and I have known each other for a long time,” Brandywine coach Ray Prestly said. “Whenever we play it’s a friendly competition. They played a great game and we didn’t take care of things on our side of the court.”

Brandywine’s Clara DePriest had 2 kills and 28 assists, and Kylie Myers had 16 kills.

Senior Haley Goff led the charge for the Bees to the tune of 5 aces, 37 kills, 4 assists, and 19 digs. Lily Badger had 36 assists and 12 digs, and Maura Killips added 1 ace, 1 assist, and 12 digs.

“Our players have stepped up and they’ve opened the court up to allow us to do different things,” Ragosta said. “What’s great about this team is that they’re very unselfish. They’re willing to do whatever it takes.”

Bridgman (4-0 BCS Red, 25-4-2) takes sole possession of first place in the BCS Red.

“We have to keep working hard in practice,” Ragosta said. “That hasn’t been an issue so far. They work hard and are reaping those benefits.”

For Brandywine (3-1, 16-6-1), Wednesday’s game was a setback that should lead to better things down the road.

“Tonight in my view was a starting point,” Prestly said. “From the beginning of the season to now, we’ve seen momentum gains. We have some things to fix, but it’s still a process. As long as the girls continue to trust the process, we’ll be in good shape.”

Bridgman d. Brandywine 23-25, 25-18, 25-17, 25-20

Bridgman – Peyton Oman 3 kills, 8 digs; Haley Goff 5 aces, 37 kills, 4 assists, 19 digs; Takiya Cornelius 2 blocks; Summer Janes 3 kills, 8 digs; Haylee Kanous 1 kill, 1 block; Madelyne Oman 1 kill, 25 digs; Lily Badger 36 assists, 12 digs; Autumn Brown 2 digs; Maura Killips 1 ace, 1 assist, 12 digs.

Brandywine – Elizabeth Stockdale 3 kills, 16 assists; Kristen Alvord 10 kills; Bethany Duval 12 kills; Clara DePriest 2 kills, 28 assists; Kylie Myers 16 kills; Riley Crofoot 2 kills, 2 blocks.

Records: Bridgman 4-0 BCS Red, 25-4-2;Brandywine 3-1, 16-6-1.

Contact: mharden@thehp.com, 932-0371, @HPMaxwellHarden