SHEFFIELD VILLAGE — Things weren’t looking good for Brookside.
Keystone had just won the first two games and rallied from a 7-3 deficit in the third game to tie the score at 9 in Saturday’s Patriot Athletic Conference volleyball match, all but seizing the momentum.
But the Cardinals, specifically junior middle hitter Tyller Holley, had other plans.
Holley became a force at the net the Wildcats didn’t seem to have an answer for as the Cardinals bounced back to force a fifth game. She then came up with two huge kills as Keystone served for match point in that fifth game, leading the Cards to a 23-25, 17-25, 25-20, 25-16, 17-15 win.
“It’s so great. This is the match we’ve been waiting for all year,” said Brookside first-year coach Karlee Bruck, a Lorain County Miss Volleyball winner during her days at Elyria High. “I have been preaching for them to stay together and to keep pushing regardless of what the score says or what’s happening. It’s so nice to be playing your best volleyball at the end of the year, and that’s what I keep telling them too.
“We may all be new together, but as long as you come in here and work, we’ll play our best volleyball at the end, especially as we get close to tournament time. The fact that they showed that today was absolutely fantastic.”
Brookside improved to 11-9, 9-5 PAC, but the loss was costly to Keystone, which fell into a first-place tie with Buckeye in the Stars Division. The Wildcats are 14-6, 11-3.
“That was a tough one,” Keystone coach Bud Trego said. “What changed was Tyller woke up. I don’t think she did much those first two games, but all of a sudden, she caught fire. We just didn’t do anything to stop her. She started tipping and we couldn’t stop the tip. And then she started swinging, and we couldn’t stop the swings.”
Holley had 24 kills and two block kills to lead all players. Eighteen of her kills came during the final three games.
“That was exciting,” Holley said. “They beat us earlier this season and we really wanted this game. I’m glad we earned it like we did. It was just really fun to be a part of.
“For me, adrenaline just took over and I just felt really good. It felt natural at the net. I didn’t think too much. All of a sudden, I just got into a zone and it seemed like everything I hit would fall.”
Brookside dominated the fourth game to force the all-or-nothing fifth game. Thanks to two aces from junior Lisa Campo, the Cardinals reeled off the first three points to claim leads of 6-2 and 7-4.
But Keystone came storming back. Behind the serving of Emily Peters and the net play of Liz Hayes, who had two kills and a block kill, the Wildcats scored six unanswered points to cap a 9-3 run for a 13-10 lead. But a serving error gave the Cardinals a sideout, and a kill by sophomore Mary Williams cut the deficit to 13-12.
Brooke Trego, who had 44 assists, six blocks, two aces and eight service points, got a rare kill to force a sideout and give Keystone the chance to serve out the match at 14-12. But the Wildcats had an error, and a block kill by Holley tied the score at 14.
Once again, Keystone got to serve for the match after a Hayes kill forced a sideout and a 15-14 lead. But Holley saved her two biggest kills for last, giving Brookside a 16-15 lead and the serve.
A hit by Keystone’s Jenna Quillen landed out of bounds after a serve by senior Marissa Bias, touching off a big celebration for the home team.
“I talked to Natalee (Halkiadakis), with her being a sophomore setter, about who are our best hitters on the team,” Bruck said. “We know each rotation and which hitter to go to. We also talk about realizing which hitter is hot and to keep finding her.
“The second that Tyller lit up that ball in the third game, I looked at Natalee and said, ‘Set her more. Keep going until she gets blocked.’ She pulled through for us big time.”
Williams added 10 kills and two block kills, while Campo had 15 points and four aces and Bias 16 points.
For Keystone, Peters had 16 kills in 47 attempts, Hayes had 13 kills in 54 attempts and added two aces and five service points, Quillen had 11 kills in 36 attempts along with six blocks, Darcy Irish had 10 blocks and one block kill, and Morgan Myers had 36 digs.
“We made way too many mistakes,” Coach Trego said. “I don’t have the exact stats, but we had to have made at least five or six hitting errors in each game. Against decent teams, you can’t do that and expect to win. We had a lot of enthusiasm and energy in those first two games, but it just disappeared in those last three.”
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.