EATON TWP. — Brunswick’s volleyball team started six sophomores and had six players making their postseason tournament debut Monday.
Once the match began, though, they looked like seasoned veterans.
Sophomore middle hitters Julia Holden and Samantha Cerny combined for 21 kills in their first postseason match, leading the Blue Devils to a 25-16, 25-14, 25-21 sweep of Westlake in the opener at the Midview Division I Sectional.
Defending district champion Brunswick (7-16) will play No. 2 seed North Olmsted in the sectional finals Wednesday, while the 11th-seeded Demons finished 0-23.
“Honestly, we were all more excited than we were nervous about playing today,” said Cerny, who collected eight kills and a pair of blocks. “We talked about how this could be the beginning of a three-year run for our sophomore class, so that made it a lot of fun.
“But we’re definitely not thinking of next year now. We believe we can go all the way and win districts again this season.”
Senior setter Megan Anderson, the only non-sophomore in the Blue Devils lineup, dished out a match-high 31 assists and made three blocks. Holden hammered a match-high 13 kills, while outside hitter Amanda Lessman had five kills and defensive specialist Makenzie Coughlin added two assists and six digs.
Fellow sophomores Gina Yurik (8 kills, 12 digs) and Jordan Verbiak (9 digs, 3 assists, 2 aces) also started, but played in all four matches during Brunswick’s run to the 2012 Brecksville Regional semifinals.
“I tried to help the rookies out as much as I could, and they listened to all the advice that I gave them,” Verbiak said. “Age doesn’t matter to me because we’ve been together all year, but they got me really pumped up with how excited they were.”
Verbiak joined Anderson in leading by example, not committing a defensive error in the 126-point match. Junior outside hitter Stephanie Hannah, the other playoff veteran who saw action against Westlake, added three kills.
Sophomore outside hitter Olivia Krivanek (4 kills) and sophomore setter Erika Overton (3 assists, 3 aces) also appeared in their initial postseason match by coming off the bench.
“Maybe my expectations are higher because I’m around these girls every day, but I thought the score was closer than it should have been,” Brunswick coach Mande Pyzik said. “We missed a lot of serves and are still making errors that you can’t make against good teams if you expect to win.
“I hope they step it up against North Olmsted because they’re going to need to.”
Despite their winless record, the Demons played very well defensively and committed five fewer errors than the Blue Devils.
Junior middle hitter Katie Murray had seven kills and a match-high nine blocks for Westlake, which held one-point leads on eight occasions in the first and third games. The Demons won the blocking battle 19-8, but had 21 kills to Brunswick’s 47.
“They were very scrappy on defense, but we just had too many hitters for them to stop,” Cerny said. “It also helped that Megan is an awesome setter. She kept switching it up, so they didn’t know where the next attack was coming from.
“We’re a very dangerous team when everyone gets going at the net. Hopefully, we’ll be even better on Wednesday.”
There are 11 sophomores on the Blue Devils’ 16-player tournament roster. Nine of them saw significant action in the regular season.
• Brunswick played without defensive specialist Allison Evans (concussion), a senior co-captain who was injured last week against Elyria.
• With the match starting at 4:30 p.m., only 64 fans were in attendance for the opening serve.
Contact Brian Dulik at firstname.lastname@example.org.