EATON TWP. — Brunswick’s volleyball team has been biding its time for a full year, waiting to get a second chance at playing Amherst Steele in the tournament.
The Blue Devils have now earned that opportunity.
Seniors Morgan Ritchie and Gabrielle Bulic each had 10 kills Thursday as Brunswick erased North Olmsted 25-21, 25-17, 25-19 in a Grafton Midview Division I Sectional final.
Thanks to their relatively easy victory, the third-seeded Blue Devils (16-7) will face the second-seeded Comets in the district semifinals Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
In the 2011 district semis, Amherst edged Brunswick in a five-game thriller, winning the fifth by a 15-11 margin.
“I wouldn’t call it looking for revenge, but we definitely wanted another chance at Amherst this season,” said Ritchie, who had five kills in the third and final game. “We played pretty solid tonight and had a lot of fun working together.
“At the same time, we made sure the younger players were ready because they had to be ‘on’ once the tournament starts. We’re going to need everyone playing their best when we get to next week.”
Ritchie added 11 assists for the Blue Devils, while University of Michigan recruit Bulic had a match-high four aces and two blocks.
Fellow 12th-graders Alex Fuldauer (6 kills) and Paige Elias (6 digs) also came up with a number of key plays in ending the season of the seventh-seeded Eagles.
“I’m as happy as I could be, knowing we’re going to play a great program in Amherst again,” Brunswick coach Mande Pyzik said. “All four of my seniors shared in that tough loss last year, and I feel like they’ve been motivated by it. They’ll be ready for them at districts.”
Senior outside hitter Dana Borsz paced North Olmsted (12-12) with seven kills, while senior setter Tara Kelley collected five kills and 15 assists. The Eagles’ lone leads came at 1-0, 2-0, and 2-1 in the second game.
Junior setter Megan Anderson (match-high 22 assists, 3 blocks), freshman middle hitter Ally Badowski (8 kills, match-high 6 blocks) and junior defensive specialist Allison Evans (6 digs) also played significant roles as the Blue Devils improved to 7-1 in their last eight matches.
“North Olmsted put up a good fight and has a solid team,” Ritchie said. “I wish them luck next year, but it’s nice for us to keep going in the tournament.”
In addition to the Brunswick/Amherst district semifinal, No. 1 seed Avon Lake will square off with No. 4 seed Elyria. The Blue Devils, Comets and Shoregals each swept their sectional final foes, while the Pioneers dropped one game to Avon.
“Every team that’s going to districts probably should be there, including us,” said Elias, whose sharp jump-serve kept North Olmsted guessing all evening long.
“The thing I liked the most about the way we played tonight was we never let up, which we usually do at some point. Everyone was focused on doing their jobs the whole time, which is why we were able to win so quickly.”
Brunswick won the kill battle 38-26, the ace competition 8-4, and outblocked the Eagles 11-6. Badowski, Jordan Verbiak and Gina Yurik all made their postseason debuts for the victors.
Contact Brian Dulik at email@example.com.