Brandywine rallies to edge River Valley 3-2

Published 8:43 am Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Brandywine's Abby Cole digs up a ball against River Valley Monday night. (Leader photo/JOSEPH WEISER)

Brandywine’s Abby Cole digs up a ball against River Valley Monday night. (Leader photo/JOSEPH WEISER)

BRIDGMAN – Brandywine volleyball coach Carl Greulich called it his team’s biggest win of the year after beating River Valley, 23-25, 25-19, 20-25, 25-18, 15-10, in Class C District opening round action on Monday.

Considering the circumstances, it’s hard to argue with Greulich.

The Bobcats got some bad news before the match when junior captain Brooke Smith suffered a left knee injury in warm-ups. During the match she returned to Brandywine bench holding crutches with her knee heavily wrapped.

“That was really hard,” said Greulich about Smith’s injury. “She came down wrong on her left leg. Our AD thought it might be a hyperextension. She’s going to the doctor tonight. I’m hoping it’s minor.

“I did tell the team to win this match for Brooke. She’s our team captain. To lose her is huge. But, our girls were motivated. I told the girls that Brooke wasn’t going to be with us tonight and that we had to focus on what we were doing and to keep the ball inside the lines. They were able to do that. They played smart.”

Brandywine struggled at the start, falling behind 21-11 in the first game. The Bobcats were getting hurt by River Valley 6-foot-2 hitter Rachel Palen. Palen had two kills and two stuff blocks and was a factor at the net for the Mustangs. When she went to the bench, Brandywine rallied and pulled within 23-22. River Valley eventually won the game on a kill from Victoria Pirkel.

The Bobcats made adjustments and led most of game two. Michaela Hartline’s service ace clinching game two for Brandywine.

“I worked the lineup where we had good blocking on, obviously, Rachel (Palen),” Greulich said. “We had to stop her. If we could do that I thought we were pretty even with them. I kept Olivia DePriest on her and she did a great job tonight. (DePriest) took care of the net and that’s what it’s all about. That’s where we won the match.”

River Valley took back control of the match in game three. The Mustangs jumped out to an 18-10 lead and won the game on a kill from Palen.

Brandywine went on a 20-7 run in game four to take a 20-10 lead. Justine Sater had three service aces and Abby Cole added two during that stretch for the Bobcats. Michaela Hartline added three kills and Sydney Carlson added two during that run for Brandywine. Michaela Hartline’s kill clinched game four for the Bobcats.

Brandywine never trailed in game five as Carlson totaled three kills in that game, including the game and match winner.

Carlson finished the match with 17 kills. Michaela Hartline added eight and DePriest had seven.

“Sydney was our go-to girl,” Greulich said. “She’s just a tough competitor. She plays great defense on top of hitting. Sydney is also smart.”

Brandywine, which fell to River Valley in three games during the regular season, improves to 18-17-6. The Bobcats will face Watervliet in a district semifinal match on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at Bridgman High School.


Class C District Volleyball

Brandywine d. River Valley 3-2

At Bridgman


Sydney Carlson (B) 17, Michaela Hartline (B) 8, Olivia DePriest (B) 7, Rachel Palen (R) 10, Victoria Pirkel (R) 9


DePriest (B) 5, Makenna Hartline (B) 3, Palen (R) 5


Abby Cole (B) 4, Justine Sater (B) 3, Emily Erwin (B) 3, Michaela Hartline (B) 2, Sarah Knapp (R) 2, Lexie Olson (R) 2


Erwin (B) 40


Cole (B) 12, Michaela Hartline (B) 9, Knapp (R) 9, Madison Blair (R) 6