Brentwood volleyball relishes playoff experience
Anna Betz excelled in her dual role as a middle hitter and defensive specialist on the Brentwood girls volleyball team this season.
A three-sport standout athlete, Betz led the Spartans in total kills (107) and blocks (57), and was named first-team all-section off her performance in 2017.
“Anna really stepped up this season as not only a middle hitter but as a defense specialist,” coach Kayla Hubsch said. “I knew Anna was going to have to step up due to our losing two senior middle hitters last year to graduation. She went above and beyond my expectations.
“I'm looking forward to working with her and her teammates over the offseason.”
Betz, a junior, served as one of the Spartans' co-captains this season.
“Anna was voted co-captain by her teammates,” Hubsch said. “This was no surprise to me because of the person she is on and off the court.
“Anna is very coachable, and takes into consideration every correction you give her. Her skills, passion and motivation make her a role model for all her teammates.”
Five other Brentwood netters — juniors Abby Wolf, Natalie Murrio and Brooke McQuillan, and seniors Morgan Dryburgh and Brooke Gilchrist — also landed all-section laurels.
Wolf (setter), Murrio (outside hitter/defensive specialist) and Dryburgh (middle hitter) were second-team selections. McQuillan (outside hitter/defensive specialist) and Gilchrist (libero) received third-team nods.
“Abby Wolf helped control the team's success with her setting skills,” Hubsch said. “She went from a JV setter last season to a starting varsity setter. Our hitters would not have been as successful without Abby's quick feet and ability to set the ball from anywhere on the court.”
Brentwood ended up tied for second place with Fort Cherry in Section 3-A behind Bishop Canevin (14-0). The Spartans commenced section play with six consecutive wins before finishing with a 10-4 record.
“We started the season the strongest we have in quite a few years,” Hubsch said. “We swept reigning co-section champion Fort Cherry and Avella, Chartiers-Houston and Burgettstown, the first time we played them. We made some adjustments to our lineup when Morgan Dryburgh took part of an amazing opportunity to travel to Malaysia in the middle of the season. Nothing stopped this team from fighting for every game.”
Brentwood's starting rotation consisted of four seniors — Dryburgh, Gilchrist, Brittany Stewart and Jackie Drazdzinski; and four juniors — Betz, Wolf, Murrio and McQuillan. Stewart and Drazdzinski were right-side hitters; Stewart also was a defensive specialist.
“Morgan, Brittany and Jackie made a big impact in the front row for us. Brooke (Gilchrist) and Brittany gave the other teams a hard time killing the ball because of their defensive skills,” Hubsch said. “Along with the four seniors, the four juniors really stepped up their game and made a huge transition this season. Anna, Natalie and Brooke (McQuillan) all made their presence known as front-row hitters and quick defensive specialists.”
The Spartans dropped a close 3-2 decision to Beaver County Christian in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs.
Brentwood lost the first game 25-20, captured the next two by scores of 25-22 and 25-19, before losing the fourth set by a 25-22 margin. BCC edged the Spartans, 15-12, in the fifth game.
“It was a very heartbreaking loss,” Hubsch said. “BCC gave us a run for our money, and had all the momentum on their side for Game 5. Both teams had a fantastic night with hard hits, big blocks and crazy digs.
“The loss was a shock but an eye-opener for my juniors, who are going to use it as motivation to prepare for next season.”
Betz was credited with a season-high 16 kills and five blocks against BCC, while Dryburgh chipped in 10 kills and five blocks. Dryburgh finished second on the team in total blocks (49) this season.
“Our goal is to make the WPIAL playoffs every year,” Hubsch said, “but I think now the girls are ready to advance further in the playoffs. The juniors are very eager to make it past the first round next year.
“It will be nice that the juniors will have a full season of varsity experience going into next season. They are all three- or four-sport athletes, and they motivate the rest of the team to stay engaged and focused on getting the job done.
“I can't wait to see what the girls can do next year.”
Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.