Defending league champs have 13 underclassmen
By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit
“Win-win” is a business cliché. But it aptly describes Marissa DeHoyos’ decision to apply for a job as a math teacher at Brentwood Middle School, and the school district’s decision to hire her.
DeHoyos is the new head coach of the Brentwood High School volleyball program. She was hired this summer to replace Whitney Ralph, who resigned the post after three years.
During her interview for the math position, DeHoyos mentioned that she’d played volleyball in high school and had been an assistant volleyball coach at a previous teaching job.
“I kind of played that up that I used to coach and I missed it,” she said.
So when Ralph departed, Brentwood administrators contacted DeHoyos, who was in the right place at the right time, both for herself and for the district. Win-win.
Windy City scholar-athlete
DeHoyos grew up in Chicago and was a standout volleyball player at De La Salle Institute, a private Catholic high school of about 1,200 students on the city’s South Side. She was also the valedictorian of the 2008 senior class of the school’s all-female Lourdes Hall campus.
After graduating from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, she returned to De La Salle to teach math and serve the girls volleyball program as the assistant JV coach and head freshman coach. Last year she moved to St. Louis and taught math at Gateway STEM High School, a technology magnet school.
Numbers tell the story
DeHoyos doesn’t need to be a math teacher to know it’s a rebuilding season for the BHS volleyball program. The numbers are pretty obvious.
Of the 10 varsity players last year, five were seniors, including first team all-district outside hitters Emily Connor and Danni Coates, all-conference Libero Lauren Macy and starting setter Lydia Dorenbusch. More numbers: Those seniors led the Eagles to records of 24-8 overall, 10-0 in the conference. There were 24 girls in the 2014 program and there are 17 now, and 13 are either freshmen or sophomores.
“We have an extremely young team,” said DeHoyos.
Said senior Kate Gilmore, “It’s definitely a rebuilding year but we’ll do it together.”
Strong in the middle
But Brentwood is hardly starting from square one. Its two best middle hitters are back in Gilmore, a senior, and sophomore Caroline Snare. The 5-foot-10 Snare accomplished the rare feat of making first team all-conference and second team all-district as a freshman.
The only other two with much varsity experience are outside hitter Emma Holmes and setter Tori Brotherton. Both are seniors.
Others on the preseason varsity list are sophomore Gabby Gombas and three freshmen: Maggie Callihan, Maddie Dorenbusch and Meghan Haug.
Replacing ‘threesome of energy’
Gilmore and Holmes said one challenge with all the new players is establishing a natural communication on the court.
“I played with last year’s seniors since my freshman year, so not having them on the court is a lot different,” said Gilmore, who then smiled and added, “But we do have Maddie Dorenbusch, the little sister of one of the seniors, and she’s a spitting image of Lydia.”
“Last year’s seniors all had energy,” said Holmes. “Danni, Lydia and Lauren were like a little threesome of energy, but now we have to find that again. We try to be loud but we’ll have to get more comfortable with talking on the court. There’s not a lot of cheering on, that needs to happen more, but that will come along with the games.”
Though the fierce-hitting Snare is soft-spoken, DeHoyos said she’s becoming a team leader.
“There’s definitely a lot of leadership there,” she said of Snare. “She’s a sophomore and so she’s quiet about it, but she’ll talk to the girls one-on-one to build their confidence and she knows what’s going on on the court.”
Shift in emphasis
As with any rebuilding year, more emphasis will be placed on improving than on winning.
“We just want to build up their skills,” said DeHoyos. “We want them to have the foundation down to be good volleyball players, whether that means winning or losing. Yes, we’d love to have a winning record but it doesn’t always happen, especially with a young team.”
To promote growth in younger players, each one has been assigned a more experienced teammate partner to work with. Also, varsity coach DeHoyos and returning JV coach Erica Robertson are having the two groups work together in practice more than in the past.
“We do a lot of stuff as a program,” DeHoyos said. “So we like to start practice with varsity and JV together, break up in the middle to work on specific things, then come together at the end because we want to create that bond for all of them. We have faith in our returning members that they’re going to show the young girls the way.”
Projected varsity players
Tori Brotherton, senior
Kate Gilmore, senior
Emma Holmes, senior
Gabby Gombas, sophomore
Caroline Snare, sophomore
Maggie Callihan, freshman
Madelyn Dorenbusch, freshman
Meghan Haug, freshman
Projected junior varsity players
Kayla Dillard, junior
Anna Blomstrom, sophomore
Natalie Featherston, sophomore
Jenny Laseter, sophomore
Amanda Vanden Hoek, sophomore
Caroline Vandervoort, sophomore
Isabelle Zoellner, sophomore
Mackenzie Baum, freshman
Lindsey Trieu, freshman
BHS Volleyball Head Coaches, 1972 to 2015
2015: Marissa DeHoyos
2012-2014: Whitney Ralph
2006-11: Rick Czuppon
2004-05: Connie Strobach
2001-03: Susan Kleinschnitz
2000: Vikki Rees
1999: Casey Geisz
1982-98: Guy Sachs
1979-81: No team shown in yearbook
1977-78: Beth Markenson
1975-76: Janet Little
1974: Patricia Steele
1972-73: Sharon Enzenauer