Volleyball Team Plays for District Crown

Moments after beating Maplewood-Richmond Heights in the district semifinals are Brentwood's (from left) Caroline Snare, Emma Holmes, Kate Gilmore, Torri Brotherton and Meghan Haug. (All photos by Steve Bowman)
Embracing moments after beating Maplewood-Richmond Heights in the district semifinals on Tuesday are (from left) Brentwood’s Maggie Callihan, Caroline Snare, Emma Holmes, Kate Gilmore, Torri Brotherton and Meghan Haug. (All photos by Steve Bowman)

Eagles upset MRH in semifinals, finally fall to Principia

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

Here’s what was supposed to happen in the Class 2 District 4 volleyball tournament this week at Brentwood High School:

Third-seeded BHS beats Cleveland NJROTC in the first round, then loses to No. 2 Maplewood-Richmond Heights in the semifinals. Because, let’s face it, the very young Eagles will crumble under the pressure of a do-or-die match with six-senior MRH. Besides, if BHS somehow gets to the district title match with top-seeded Principia, they wouldn’t stand a chance against the hard-hitting, seven-senior Panthers.

Here’s what actually happened: Brentwood quickly put away both Cleveland and MRH to reach the title match with Principia, then ran up an 11-4 lead in game 1. The Panthers finally rallied to win 25-19 but the Eagles came out swinging in the second game and led 9-4. Prin got ahead but the Eagles cut the gap to 21-19 before finally losing 25-20.

Kate Gilmore (left) hugs Maggie Callihan for scoring a point for a 13-6 lead in the second game with MRH.
Kate Gilmore (left) hugs Maggie Callihan for scoring a point for a 13-6 lead in the second game with MRH.

So Principia advanced to the state sectional for the second year in a row while Brentwood’s surprising season is finally over. What a wild ride. With a starting lineup that included three freshmen and a sophomore, BHS was supposed to be rebuilding but instead won a league championship and had Principia calling timeouts.

That didn’t stop senior Kate Gilmore’s eyes from tearing up as the Panthers celebrated in the BHS gym on Thursday. Her last game in three years of being a starter might have been her best. From the back row she somehow got underneath spike after spike and kept the ball in play. From the front row she erected roadblocks to Prin’s vicious hitting and answered kills with kills.

“I kind of came out knowing that this might be my last game.,” Gilmore said. “Not that I didn’t have faith in us, but just that they’re a really good team. You can only do so much to pick up No. 7 [Jessica Bayne]. I mean, she’s great. But I came out with that fire knowing that I needed to play like it was my last game.”

Gabby Gombas hugs Caroline Snare (left) and Maggie Callihan after beating MRH.
Gabby Gombas hugs Caroline Snare (left) and Maggie Callihan after beating MRH.

Said Brentwood coach Marissa DeHoyos, “We knew it was going to come to an end at some point, but it’s upsetting that tonight is the end. The huge leads that we had and then lost, that’s what really burns.”

Gilmore and Caroline Snare led a red-hot hitting attack that Maplewood had no answer for. But against Principia both teams could hit, so the Panthers won with stretches of flawless defense.

“I’m happy with how we played, I just wish it had clicked better for us,” said DeHoyos. “At times our passing was on, at times our setting was on, at times our hitting was on. But getting those three in a row . . .”

But DeHoyos was happy to see her young team’s maturity from when they lost to Principia in September.

“We came out on the court and we looked scared,” DeHoyos said of the September match. “We were like, ‘Oh, look who we’re playing.’ But their growth since then has been huge.”

Caroline Snare jumps high to fire a line drive into MRH's defense.
Caroline Snare attempts to fire a line drive past MRH’s Denise Lyons.
Kate Gilmore accepts the team plaque for placing second in the district tournament.
Kate Gilmore accepts the team plaque for placing second in the district tournament.
The loss to Principia sinks in for Brentwood's three seniors (from left) Kate Gilmore, Torri Brotherton and Emma Holmes.
The loss to Principia sinks in for Brentwood’s three seniors as Marissa DeHoyos speaks to the team immediately after the match. They are (from left) Kate Gilmore, Torri Brotherton and Emma Holmes.

BHS vs. MRH

In the district semifinal win over MRH, Snare and Gilmore led a hit parade that ended the match in two sets, 25-17, 25-15. They keyed runs of 11-2 in the first set and 16-2 in the second.

“We were putting the ball down,” said DeHoyos. “That’s what really helped us. Because when you get a kill the energy is just so intense. Since we kept getting kills, we just kept the energy up, we kept talking, kept playing hard.”

Outside hitter Emma Holmes attacks MRH in the second game.
Outside hitter Emma Holmes attacks MRH in the second game.

Team unity

A key to Brentwood’s success this season, a record of 19-11-2, was how well the three seniors — Gilmore, Torri Brotherton and Emma Holmes — got along with the three freshman starters — Maggie Callihan, Madelyn Dorenbusch and Meghan Haug.

“The seniors would never make our underclassmen feel like ‘You made a mistake because you’re inexperienced,’” said DeHoyos. “Our seniors have the attitude of ‘Every single one of us makes mistakes.’ They don’t belittle somebody else.”

Said Dorenbusch, “They were really welcoming, so it wasn’t like, ‘Oo, we’re scared of a senior.’”

The freshmen are a tight bunch. Callihan and Dorenbusch have played volleyball together for six years and with Haug for two years. Haug is an outstanding server who scored numerous aces this season, including two in a row for the 11-4 lead over Principia in the first game.

“I try to hit it as hard as I can,” she said, then added with a smile, “and I try to aim for the court.”

Madelyn’s sister Lydia played for the team through last season.

“Maddie’s older sister was up here last year and we would follow them and watch their games,” said Callihan. “We said, ‘That’s going to be us some day.’”

Brentwood reacts to scoring the final point against MRH to advance to the district championship. Players are (from left) Emma Holmes, Caroline Snare, Maggie Callihan, Torri Brotherton and Kate Gilmore.
Brentwood reacts to scoring the final point against MRH to advance to the district championship. Players are (from left) Emma Holmes, Caroline Snare, Maggie Callihan, Torri Brotherton and Kate Gilmore.

Brentwood’s results, district tournament
Oct. 19: Beat Cleveland NJROTC 25-4, 25-17
Oct. 20: Semifinal, beat MRH 25-17, 25-15
Oct. 22: Final, lost to Principia 25-19, 25-20

More photos from the win over MRH

Torri Brotherton sets the ball in the second game with MRH.
Torri Brotherton sets the ball before a big crowd in the second game.
Anna Blomstrom warms up before the MRH match.
Anna Blomstrom warms up before the match.
Emma Holmes in pregame warmups.
Emma Holmes in pregame warmups.
Fans welcome the Eagles onto the court before the first game.
Fans welcome the Eagles onto the court before the first game.
Madelyn Dorenbusch sets the ball in the first game while Kate Gilmore watches..
Madelyn Dorenbusch sets the ball in the first game while Kate Gilmore watches..
Torri Brotherton (left) and Kate Gilmore stop an attack.
Torri Brotherton (left) and Kate Gilmore stop an attack in the first set.
The Eagles celebrate a point for a 12-8 lead in the first game.
The Eagles celebrate a point for a 12-8 lead in the first game.
Maggie Callihan hits from the outside in game 1.
Maggie Callihan hits from the outside in game 1.
Brentwood coach Marissa DeHoyos talks to players between the two games.
Brentwood coach Marissa DeHoyos talks to players between games.
Caroline Snare (right) gets a hand slap from Maggie Callihan in the second set.
Caroline Snare (right) gets a hand slap from Maggie Callihan in the second set.
Brentwood students cheer an 11-6 lead in the second game.
Brentwood students cheer an 11-6 lead in the second game.
Maggie Callihan and Kate Gilmore reach to stop an attack to gain a 13-6 lead in the second game.
Maggie Callihan and Kate Gilmore reach to stop Addy Berge’s attack to gain a 13-6 lead in the second game.
Meghan Haug blocks a shot for a 21-15 lead in the second game.
Meghan Haug blocks a shot from Denise Lyons for a 21-15 lead in the second game.
Brentwood players' family members and fellow students line up to congratulate them on advancing to the district title match.
Brentwood players’ family members and fellow students line up to congratulate them on advancing to the district title match.
Of the crowd of Brentwood fans who attended the MRH match, none was more passionate than sophomore Jonas Heisel.
Of the large crowd of Brentwood fans who attended the MRH match, none was more passionate than sophomore Jonas Heisel.

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