New Volleyball Coach Rebuilding Team

Brentwood High School's new volleyball coach, Marissa DeHoyos, speaks to the team before practice on Aug. 18. (All photos by Steve Bowman)
Brentwood High School’s new volleyball coach, Marissa DeHoyos, speaks to the team before practice on Aug. 18. Their first match is on Aug. 24. (All photos by Steve Bowman)

Defending league champs have 13 underclassmen

 
By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit
email: bowmansj@sbcglobal.net

“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.

Kate Gilmore practices a hitting drill. She's one of Brentwood's three seniors.
Kate Gilmore practices a hitting drill. She’s one of Brentwood’s three seniors.

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.

Marissa DeHoyos organizes a drill in practice on Aug. 18.
Marissa DeHoyos organizes a drill in practice on Aug. 18.

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.”

Players catch their breath while listening to Marissa DeHoyos in practice.
Varsity players catch their breath while listening to Marissa DeHoyos in practice.

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.

As a middle hitter Caroline Snare made all-league and all-district as a freshman last year.
As a middle hitter Caroline Snare made all-league and all-district as a freshman last year.
Kate Gilmore should provide some firepower as a middle hitter.
Kate Gilmore should once again provide some firepower as a middle hitter.
Senior Emma Holmes takes aim in practice.
Senior Emma Holmes takes aim in practice.
Senior Torri Brotherton plays varsity and JV last year.
Senior Tori Brotherton played varsity and JV last year.
Sophomore Gabby Gombas is stepping up to varsity.
After a year on JV, sophomore Gabby Gombas is stepping up to varsity.
Maggie Callihan is one of the team's six freshmen.
Maggie Callihan is one of the team’s two freshman to make the varsity squad so far.
Maddie Dorenbusch is a freshman but was finishing first in varsity wind sprints at practice on Tuesday.
Madelyn Dorenbusch is a freshman but was finishing first in varsity wind sprints at practice on Tuesday.
Mehgan Haug prepares to serve. She's one of the team's six freshmen.
Freshman Meghan Haug prepares to serve to her varsity teammates.

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.”

Caroline Snare stands on a ladder and uses a rubber ball to block shots at the net. The exercise gives front-row players practice reacting to soft hits.
Caroline Snare stands on a ladder and uses a rubber ball to block shots at the net. The exercise gives front-row players practice reacting to soft hits.

DSC_1404 Caroline Snare

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.”

JV coach Erica Robertson works with Amanda VandenHoek on serving.
JV coach Erica Robertson works with Amanda Vanden Hoek on serving.

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

The varsity lineup is identified from left to right. Front: Torri Brotherton and Maddie Dorenbusch. Back: Emma Holmes, Kate Gilmore, Caroline Snare, Maggie Callihan and Gabby Gombas.
The preseason varsity lineup is identified from left to right. FRONT: Torri Brotherton and Maddie Dorenbusch. BACK: Emma Holmes, Kate Gilmore, Caroline Snare, Maggie Callihan and Gabby Gombas. Not pictured: Meghan Haug.

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

The preseason junior varsity lineup is identified from left to right. Front: Kayla Dillard, Isabelle Zoellner, Anna Blomstrom and Amanda VandenHoek. Back: Lindsey Trieu, Natalie Featherston, Caroline Vandervoort, Jenny Laseter and Mackenzie Baum.
The preseason junior varsity lineup is identified from left to right. FRONT: Kayla Dillard, Isabelle Zoellner, Anna Blomstrom and Amanda Vanden Hoek. BACK: Lindsey Trieu, Natalie Featherston, Caroline Vandervoort, Jenny Laseter and Mackenzie Baum.

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

Sophomore Natalie Featherston.
Sophomore Natalie Featherston.
Sophomore Jenny Laseter.
Sophomore Jenny Laseter.
Sophomore Caroline Vandervoort.
Sophomore Caroline Vandervoort.
Freshman Lindsey Trieu.
Freshman Lindsey Trieu.
Freshman Mackenzie Baum.
Freshman Mackenzie Baum.
Caroline Snare smiles at her sudden height advantage over her teammates.
Caroline Snare smiles at her sudden height advantage over her teammates.

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