Brandywine advances to district finalsPublished 9:46pm Wednesday, October 31, 2012
NEW BUFFALO — It appeared that Brandywine was headed for an easy win over Lakeland Conference rival Bridgman and a spot in Friday night’s Class C District championship match.
Then the roof fell in.
After defeating the Bees 25-15 and 25-8, the Bobcats had all the momentum to gain the sweep and head on into the finals.
But mistake after mistake in the third and fourth sets, many of which were unforced errors, allowed Bridgman to win 25-17 and 26-24 to force a fifth and deciding set.
“Bridgman did a nice job of stopping our left sides,” Brandywine coach Carl Greulich said. “They got them a little frustrated and we made all the mistakes in the third and fourth games and they didn’t.
“So in the fifth game I told them to just go out and keep the ball in play. Don’t try anything special and when you get a ball that’s set good, pound it. Use their blocks. Hit off their blocks. Hit down the line. We were having trouble hitting lines and that effects our team. In game five, I think you see that we made all the plays and they didn’t.”
The Bobcats roared out to a 6-1 lead in the fifth set behind a trio of kills by Mackenzie Shelton. Victoria Knight’s kill made it 7-1 and Brandywine could sense victory was near.
Bridgman, the defending district champions, made one last effort to get back in the match. With back-to-back kills, McKenzie Rathgeb cut the Bobcats’ lead to 9-5.
Two more kills by Jessy Cooper moved Brandywine within three points of victory and when Mikayla Kemp’s ace hit the floor the Bobcats were at match point.
Cooper finished off the Bees with a kill and Brandywine had survived and was headed to the finals against the winner of the second match — New Buffalo vs. River Valley.
“You’ve got to give Bridgman credit, they were district champions last year,” Greulich said. “They weren’t going to go down without a fight.”
Cooper finished with 16 kills, 26 assists and three aces, while Shelton had 21 kills and 22 digs. Abby Cole led the Bobcats with 23 digs.
Friday night’s championship match is scheduled for 6 p.m. at New Buffalo High School.
Class C District Volleyball
at New Buffalo
Brandywine d. Bridgman 3-2
Mackenzie Shelton 21
Jessy Cooper 16
Abby Cole 23
Brooke Smith 2
Ashley DeJonge 16
Justine Sater 3