SHEFFIELD — Elyria Catholic starting quarterback Jeremy Holley had a dilemma when he walked into Brookside’s gym for the Panthers’ volleyball season opener against the Cardinals.
On one side of the gym sat his school friends — kids he goes to class with and who play on the football team with him — and on the other side sat the Brookside fans who were there to cheer on the Cardinals — a team that features his sister, Tyller Holley.
After making a brief stop to chat with the Brookside faithful, Holley wandered over to the Panthers’ side of the gym and settled in. There he watched his Panthers defeat Brookside 23-25, 25-18, 25-20 and 25-12.
Maryssa Kellick dominated the net for the Panthers, hammering home a team-high 14 kills and recording 10 blocks (six solo). Freshman outside hitter Jessie Lee had 13 kills for the Panthers while adding 11 digs.
Brookside grabbed the first game before EC could settle in.
“We played hard and everyone was kind of rusty coming out of the gate,” Elyria Catholic coach Jennifer Lee said.
“We were able to settle down after that first game. We have a couple of freshmen and some sophomores and they were able to calm down after they got a game under their belts.”
Kellick wanted to set a different tone after the close loss in the first game.
“My first job is to make sure my teammates don’t suffer from any mistakes I might make,” she said. “There is a lot of responsibility in being a middle hitter because you set the tone, and you have to make sure you take care of your responsibilities so the rest of the team doesn’t get burnt.
“Once I started doing my job everything fell into place, and it was just about timing. I started making sure I read my setters well and it came together.”
Junior Allie Kaminski was a difference-maker after the first game as well. The Panthers struggled with the serve in the first, but Kaminski took control when she owned the serve. The Panthers scored 10 points off her serve in the middle two games.
Kaminski ended the match with a team-high 16 points and tied Kristin Baker for the match lead with three aces. Kaminski added 10 assists.
Brookside coach Karlee Bruck was not disappointed with what she saw from her young Cardinals. Holley, her middle hitter, had a match-high 17 kills while sophomore setter Natalee Halkiadakis had 32 assists.
“I thought we fought hard,” Bruck said. “Going up against a good team like EC we knew was going to be a struggle and I told the girls in practice that we were going to be here for a long time tonight. I told them they had to dig deep and fight for every point because nothing was going to come easy.”
Bruck actually found herself enjoying the battle at the net between Holley and Kellick.
“She’s fantastic, was someone we definitely prepared for,” Bruck said of Kellick.
“Overall they have a very strong team and I thought it was an equal matchup. They have some big players in the front row, so do we, and I was excited to see them go head-to-
“It was fun to watch Tyller and Kellick at the net … they had a great battle.”
Kellick said she drew on experience in playing with Holley in offseason competition.
“I play in the summer with Tyller Holley and Lisa Campo,” she said. “I don’t want to say I was cheating, but I know where they like to hit the ball. I focused on that and made sure I followed Tyller wherever she went so I was there to time the block.”
Kellick also wanted to make sure Jessie Lee, making her varsity debut, got the attention she deserved. Lee had 11 digs and five blocks (three solo) to go with her 13 kills.
“She’s amazing,” Kellick said of the freshman. “She was practicing with us when she was in eighth grade and we wanted her to play with us last year. She’s only going to get better from here, and she’s already a great player. She plays like a veteran … she knows what’s going on on the court all the time, and she’s also a great leader when it comes to energy.”
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.