SHEFFIELD — In an early-season battle of undefeated Patriot Athletic Conference teams, Brookside made a statement.
The host Cardinals, who went unbeaten in the PAC last season, dominated Buckeye with a 25-16, 25-18, 25-16 rout Thursday night.
Brookside (9-1, 6-0 PAC) got off to quick starts in all three games, setting the tone for the lopsided victory over Buckeye (6-2, 5-1).
“The girls played their game,” Brookside coach Ted Whitsel said. “That’s our game that you saw. I was a little concerned with Buckeye’s serving prowess, but our three serve receivers (Morgan Brinkman, libero Lisa Campo and Gabby Woods) did an excellent job, for the most part, passing it off.
“Buckeye’s a hard serving team and they made it look … not easy, but they did a nice enough job that we could run our offense. If (senior setter) Kady (Whitsel) wasn’t able to run some kind of offense, they would have been able to put up a much better block and it might have been a different game.”
Brookside’s attack centers around big senior hitters Shelby Kerstetter and Woods.
Kerstetter had a game-high 17 kills and three blocks on a 27-of-30 hitting performance, while Woods was 15-of-15 hitting with seven kills.
“As long as our defense gets enough balls up and we get enough swings, and as long as our offense is clicking like it has been, that’s our game,” coach Whitsel said. “Kady chased down everything. She makes a mediocre pass into a lot of kills for us.
“The combination of her and Shelby was working tonight, and it has been for the whole season.”
Whitsel was 58-of-58 setting with 27 assists and led the Cardinals with 11 points and four aces.
Campo, a sophomore, led the way with 12 digs, while Brinkman added 11 points for Brookside.
Kerstetter said she and her team worked hard to beat Buckeye the way they did.
“We knew they were coming in undefeated, and we knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game,” she said. “We really worked our butts off tonight. It was indescribable, because everyone worked their butts off out there, and it showed.
“I’d be nothing without our passing and Kady setting. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be able to hit. It really gives credit to the back row and Kady for doing what they did so I could be able to have those opportunities.”
Brookside set the tone with an 11-4 lead in the first game, a 13-7 lead in the second game, and leads of 6-1 and 11-7 in the third game that the Bucks couldn’t recover from.
Coach Whitsel said the fast starts were “very important.”
“I told the girls before the first game that they had to come out and set the tone early so that they don’t believe,” he said. “You can’t let them think that they can beat you. That was our point. Also, we believe that the way you show respect is by playing your hardest. I’m never going to let my kids not play their hardest.”
The closest Buckeye got in the match was in the second game, where a 9-3 run cut Brookside’s lead to 17-16. Senior Somer Walker followed an ace with a serve that went into the net for a Brookside sideout.
From there, the Cardinals went on a 7-2 run to take a 2-0 lead in the match. Kerstetter had three kills during the run, while Whitsel added a sideout kill.
Campo ran off four straight points with an ace to help the Cardinals turn a 13-9 lead into a 17-9 lead in the third game.
“If you have a good team like Buckeye out there and you don’t get a big lead like that, they will take advantage of that,” Kerstetter said. “They will come back and make you pay, so it was important for us to take advantage of those big leads in order for us to get a win like this.”
Buckeye junior Maggie Galaszewski went 17-for-19 hitting with 10 kills, 11 digs and was 11-for-11 serving with three points. Senior Victoria Mesmer was 12-of-13 hitting with three kills and senior Megan Mercurio was 9-for-9 hitting with five kills.
Freshman Katie Galaszewski was 47-for-47 setting with 15 assists, five points and one ace, while Walker was 35-of-36 setting with eight assists, five points and one ace. Sophomore libero Emily Vozar had eight digs, while junior Maddie Gregor had six digs.
“I think Brookside is the best team we’ve played so far — better than Dalton,” Buckeye coach Craig Peterson said. “It showed today. They passed well today. Their libero (Campo) did an incredible job. We work hard at serving aggressive, and when they take that away from us, we struggle.
“We’re coming off a big emotional win over Firelands on Tuesday, and I think some of the girls were emotionally spent from that. We made 47 errors tonight, and you can’t do that against a good team like Brookside and expect to win.”
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.