No rebuilding after all; freshmen step up
By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit
The Brentwood High School volleyball program has won its conference for the fourth time in six years.
The Eagles made quick work of Valley Park on Friday at BHS to finish with a 7-1 record in the South Central Athletic Association Conference. They’ll complete their regular season hosting Maplewood-Richmond Heights on Oct. 12, senior night.
No. 3 seeded Brentwood will play No. 6 Cleveland NJROTC in the Class 2 District 4 playoffs at 7 p.m. Oct. 19 at BHS. The winner will play either No. 2 MRH or No. 7 Carnahan at 6 p.m. Oct. 20 at BHS. See the seeding below. To see the game schedule on the MSHSAA website, click here.
7-1 in conference
Despite having won the league in 2013 and 2014, Brentwood was not exactly heavily favored to do it again this year. Two months ago they started practice with a new head coach and all but four of the 17 players either freshmen or sophomores. “Extremely young” is how coach Marissa DeHoyos described them.
Knowing how accustomed to winning Brentwood volleyball fans have become, DeHoyos might have been sending a warning when she told the Brentwood Spirit in August, “Yes, we’d love to have a winning record but it doesn’t always happen, especially with a young team.”
Two weeks later in the first league match, against Crossroads, Brentwood lost the first set by nine points. It looked as if the bitter lessons of a rebuilding season had begun. But the Eagles bounced back and narrowly won the next two sets for the victory.
In the following weeks came wins over Hancock, Bayless, Crossroads again at Crossroads, and Valley Park. The Eagles were 5-0 in the South Central before finally losing in three sets to Hancock, but they took care of business in the final two matches, Bayless and Valley Park. With four of their eight league matches requiring three sets, they weren’t as airtight as last year when the team never lost a set. But hey, a league title is a league title.
“At the beginning of the season I was saying it’d be a rebuilding season and might not go that great,” said senior Kate Gilmore. “But it’s surprised me how much we’ve won and I’m proud of everyone.”
Gilmore thinks the biggest win was at Crossroads.
“We beat them twice,” she said. “We beat them at their home in two games, which was really nice.”
3 freshmen starters, good chemistry
The Eagles’ varsity roster is unconventional, with three seniors, five sophomores and three freshmen. All three freshmen — Madelyn Dorenbusch, Maggie Callihan and Meghan Haug — play extensively.
“Maggie and Meghan are starters and Maddy is a Libero, so basically there are three freshmen starters,” said DeHoyos.
A big key to Brentwood’s success has been how well the older players have gotten along with the younger ones.
“Their names were sort of hard to learn because they all start with M — Maddy, Meghan and Maggie,” senior Emma Holmes said with a smile. “But we were able to quickly bond. We knew them before volleyball season and I think the bonds we created with everybody then and during the season helped us. Especially with the freshmen — they were really cooperative and positive and picked up on things fast.”
Said Gilmore, “Maddy Dorenbusch has stepped up a lot as our freshman Libero. She has really shown herself.”
Said DeHoyos, “I’ve heard the freshmen say, ‘The seniors have been so welcoming to us,’ and you really see that on the court. The freshmen are stepping up and taking leadership roles because the seniors want them to. They want them to excel. It’s not a competition like ‘I’m a senior, you’re a freshman.’ Everybody is there for one common goal.”
Tops in the conference and with an overall record of 16-10-2, DeHoyos is doing pretty well for her first year as the head coach of a high school varsity team. She credits the success to her players.
“It’s all on them,” she said. “They’re really open to try anything I ask them to. They want to improve. They don’t want to just coast through; they want to know what they’re doing wrong, when they’re doing wrong and how they can do better, which is amazing for a coach. As they’ve been welcoming to the freshmen, they’ve also been very welcoming to me, letting me to know what their traditions are, if they want to try something new, stuff like that.”
BHS volleyball conference finishes since 2010
Brentwood’s 2015 conference matches
1-1 vs. Hancock:
Sept. 11: Won 20-25, 25-19, 26-24
Sept. 29: Lost 14-25, 25-19, 26-24
2-0 vs. Crossroads:
Sept. 2: Won 16-25, 26-24, 25-21
Sept. 18: Won 25-21, 26-24
2-0 vs. Bayless:
Sept. 15: Won 22-25, 25-17, 26-24
Oct. 2: Won 25-20, 25-16
2-0 vs. Valley Park:
Sept. 22: Won 25-22, 25-23
Oct. 9: Won 25-17, 25-8
Seeding for Class 2, District 4 playoffs at BHS
1. Principia, 14-6-1
2. Maplewood-Richmond Heights, 18-7-2
3. Brentwood, 16-10-2
4. Hancock, 14-8-2
5. Valley Park, 2-20-1
6. Cleveland NJROTC, 2-11
7. Carnahan, 3-3
BHS varsity roster
Seniors: Kate Gilmore, Emma Holmes, Tori Brotherton.
Sophomores: Anna Blomstrom, Gabby Gombas, Jenny Laseter, Caroline Snare, Caroline Vandervoort.
Freshmen: Madelyn Dorenbusch, Maggie Callihan, Meghan Haug.
BHS junior varsity roster
Juniors: Kayla Dillard, Natalie Featherston.
Sophomores: Anna Blomstrom, Gabby Gombas, Jenny Laseter, Caroline Vandervoort, Amanda Vanden Hoek, Isabelle Zoellner.
Freshmen: Mackenzie Baum, Lindsey Trieu.