Big crowd sees BHS avenge August loss to Blue Devils
By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit
The crowd was big and loud at Brentwood High School on Monday night for the volleyball team’s final match of the regular season. Both teams’ fans packed the north bleachers and half of them cheered every point. You would have thought a conference title was at stake, but no, the two teams are no longer in the same league.
As the Eagles’ first-year coach Marissa DeHoyos now knows, that’s just how Brentwood vs. Maplewood-Richmond Heights goes. Especially when both teams are doing so well — MRH has 18 wins and BHS 17 heading into next week’s district playoffs, where they’ll probably face off again.
“The energy here has been amazing, especially for this last game,” said DeHoyos. “And if we end up playing Maplewood at district, it’s going to be even crazier, because we’ll have even more people in the crowd and they will too.”
As charged as the atmosphere was on Monday, it’s surprising that the match didn’t go to three games. Brentwood won 26-24, 25-19. This against an MRH team that had beaten them in two games in August and is seeded ahead of them for the district playoffs.
Down by 5 in first set
The Eagles trailed for most of the first set and found themselves facing a 21-16 deficit.
When middle hitter Kate Gilmore went up for a kill, she found the path blocked by MRH’s Melissa Rassmussen and at the last moment finessed the ball left where it dropped for a point. The play began a 7-1 run for the Eagles that put them ahead 23-22.
BHS lost the lead at 24-23 but a block by Caroline Snare tied it at 24. After the next serve, she went up for another two-handed block, forcing the Blue Devils to redirect a hit and the ball shot out of bounds for a 25-24 Brentwood lead.
Maplewood tried to tie it with yet another hit but the ball was stopped by a four-hand wall put up by Snare and Meghan Haug. BHS won 26-24.
Hitters take over in 2nd set
The Eagles carried their momentum into the second game and led 5-1 and then 13-7. Maplewood’s 6-0 burst made it 13-13, the first of six ties before two smashing hits by Kate Gilmore gave Brentwood the lead for good. Snare’s two blocks, one kill and one tap later, the scoreboard showed 25-19 and seven Eagles met in a tight victory embrace on the court.
“They beat us at their place in our first match of the season, so there was a lot going in this game,” said Gilmore.
“It felt amazing,” said senior Torri Brotherton. “I know a lot of them personally . . . so it was really good to win tonight.”
Said DeHoyos, “I told them I was proud of them and this is how our seniors wanted to go out, with a bang against Maplewood.”
Senior night: nervous but hyped
The game was senior night for Brentwood. Brotherton, Gilmore and Emma Holmes were honored in a ceremony with their family members before the match. While such a distraction can take players out of their normal routine, Brentwood’s crowd kept the Eagles focused.
“I like that a lot of people come out and the cheering brings a lot of energy to the team, so it’s easier for us to get pumped up,” said Gilmore. “But then it’s also kind of a lot because family members are there who normally aren’t and you want to impress them. But I’d say it’s more a pump up than nervousness.”
Said Brotherton, “I think a big addition was the soccer boys and football boys bringing the energy. We stay hyped when they’re in here.”
The difference: Gilmore, Snare
Several Eagles said the biggest difference between BHS and MRH on Monday was Gilmore and Snare.
“Our hitting was the difference,” said Gilmore. “Caroline and I, they couldn’t figure out which way to go. In the past they’ve had a really good middle back but it seemed like she was a little off in this game.”
Said Brotherton, “I don’t think they had an answer for Snare and Kate in the middle. They just weren’t having it. Also, Emma has her good cross-court hit and it just kills teams.”
“They just kept swinging, swinging, swinging,” DeHoyos said of Snare and Gilmore. “At first there was a bit of a slow start but once they found where to hit on the court they just kept going with it and Maplewood couldn’t return it. We always want Caroline or Kate to make that first kill or get that first block, because that changes our momentum, even if we’re still losing. Seeing them put the ball down totally changes our energy.”
Red arms in practice
Snare, a sophomore and second-year starter, hits the ball so hard her teammates hate trying to return her serves in practice.
“During practice the girls say, ‘Caroline, we love having you on our team when you’re serving in a game, but we hate practicing against your serves.’ Their arms turn so red.”
Other than her ferocious hitting, Snare doesn’t appear to have an aggressive nature. But looks can be deceiving.
“I hit it hard when I’m mad,” she said after the MRH match. “And I just wanted to win from last time when they beat us. I get mad at myself to do better.”
DeHoyos said power isn’t Snare’s only strength.
“She’s a very smart player,” the coach said. “She knows where to put the ball. She can see their holes. And she can watch the ball and at the same time see where the other team is on the court.”
Brentwood beat MRH despite having three freshmen starters to the Blue Devils’ none. Ninth graders Madelyn Dorenbusch, Meghan Haug and Maggie Callihan continue to hold their own against older opponents.
“We’ve definitely improved throughout the season,” said DeHoyos. “We’ve gone a long way, figuring out who belongs where. At the beginning of the season we didn’t have Maddy as a Libero, now she’s our Libero and she’s very constant on the court for the girls.”
Brotherton praised Haug’s serving, saying, “Meghan, when she’s on, gets ace after ace.”
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.
Seeding for Class 2, District 4 playoffs at BHS
1. Principia, 14-6-1
2. Maplewood-Richmond Heights, 18-8-2
3. Brentwood, 17-10-2
4. Hancock, 14-8-2
5. Valley Park, 2-20-1
6. Cleveland NJROTC, 2-11
7. Carnahan, 3-3
BHS varsity roster
Seniors: Torri Brotherton, Kate Gilmore, Emma Holmes.
Sophomores: Anna Blomstrom, Gabby Gombas, Jenny Laseter, Caroline Snare, Caroline Vandervoort.
Freshmen: Maggie Callihan, Madelyn Dorenbusch, Meghan Haug.
BHS junior varsity roster
Juniors: Kayla Dillard, Natalie Featherston.
Sophomores: Anna Blomstrom, Gabby Gombas, Jenny Laseter, Amanda Vanden Hoek, Caroline Vandervoort, Isabelle Zoellner.
Freshmen: Mackenzie Baum, Lindsey Trieu.