Bobcats win regional title
Published 10:51 pm Thursday, November 11, 2010
CONSTANTINE — A comeback victory in the opening set of Thursday night’s Class C regional volleyball tournament propelled the Brandywine to a 3-1 victory over Lawton at Constantine High School.
The Bobcats (42-8-4) rallied to take the opening set 26-24 and then went on to defeat the Blue Devils 23-25, 25-11 and 25-17 to claim their first regional championship since 2003.
Brandywine will now face the winner from the Hudson regional on Tuesday night in the state quarterfinals in Jonesville.
Seniors Kelsey Prestly and Lauren Leonard led the charge as the pair combined for 36 kills.
The first set went back and forth through the first 20 points before Lawton opened up a 23-21 advantage on a kill by Jenna Maury.
Brandywine came storming back, with two kills from Prestly and a kill from Leonard. And when senior Morgan Smallwood knocked down a ball at the net for game point, the Bobcats were up 1-0.
“That was huge,” Brandywine coach Nikki Bush said. “Once again, I don’t like to start from behind because you always feel like you are chasing. To actually be able to come out and come out on top in that first game was just what we needed.”
Lawton (44-7-3) came back to edge the Bobcats 25-23 in the second set.
Brandywine led 4-0 behind three straight service winners from Mackenzie Shelton and kills from Leonard and Prestly. The Bobcats even led 8-5 following a service winner by Ashley DeJonge, but the Blue Devils rallied and tied the match at 11-11. It would be tied again at 14-14, but then Lawton went on a bit of a roll.
Three kills by Cassandra Willis and a block gave the Blue Devils a 17-13 advantage. A kill by Shelby Thomas made it 21-17 and three consecutive service winners by Maury had Lawton up 24-19.
The never-say-die Bobcats got three service winners, including an ace from Prestly to cut the gap to 24-21, but the ‘Cats couldn’t muster another come-from-behind victory.
Instead, Brandywine regrouped between sets two and three and blew out the Blue Devils and set up its run to the title in the final two sets.
After grabbing an early 5-2 lead on Lawton, Leonard served up 10 straight service points and collected four of her team-high six aces to gave the Bobcats an insurmountable 18-2 advantage.
Kills from Prestly and Smallwood, along with a block from both of them helped spur the run that put Brandywine up 2-1 heading into what turned out to be the final set.
The Blue Devils tried to get back into the match, grabbing a 2-0 lead, but it was clear that the previous set took all the wind out of Lawton’s sails.
With the match tied 4-4, the Bobcats outscored the Blue Devils 9-5 over the next 14 points to take a 13-9 advantage and forced Lawton into a timeout.
It was never really close from that point on. Back-to-back aces from DeJonge made it 16-11 and kills from Prestly, Shelton, Smallwood and Leonard put the Bobcats up 23-15. Lanisha Brann’s kill moved Brandywine to match point and when Prestly drove down her second straight match-winning spike, the Bobcats were headed to the quarterfinals.
“I’m pumped, this is awesome,” said Bush, who played on the Bobcats’ 2003 regional championship team. “My girls worked their butts off tonight. They just did a great job.”
Prestly finished the night with 23 kills, while Leonard finished with 13 and Smallwood eight. Smallwood also had four blocks and 15 digs.
Jessy Cooper finished with 44 assists, three aces and three blocks. Shelton also had three aces and 11 assists.
Lawton was led by Willis’ 16 kills. Erika Whittington finished with eight kills and Carly Toso seven.