One day after a crushing five-set loss to South River, the Broadneck volleyball team met in the gym Friday for what Coach David Verostic called an “absolutely brutal” practice.
The Bruins missed 31 serves Thursday night, so they spent the majority of their next practice serving. Their task as a team was to serve 120 balls in a row. Misses resulted in conditioning. Senior Dallas Jasper estimated that they served almost 400 times.
“It was just really about focus,” she said.
That focus showed Tuesday night in Annapolis, when the Bruins turned the tables on South River and this time found themselves on the winning end of the fifth set. Fueled by Jasper’s nine kills and six blocks and 27 digs from Katie Byrne, they defeated the Seahawks, 19-25, 25-17, 15-25, 25-23, 15-8, to claim the Anne Arundel County championship.
The Bruins (13-3, 11-1 Anne Arundel) have gone to five sets in three of their past four matches, including a come-from-behind win against Arundel on Oct. 16. Verostic believes that those types of matches will help prepare his team for the Maryland 4A playoffs, which begin Thursday.
“I think it’s a good thing,” he said. “We have our preseason schedule really tough too. I’d rather play a game like this every single night of the week than play someone weaker.”
After losing a sizeable lead and only barely hanging on to win the fourth set, Verostic challenged the other upperclassmen on his team to step up their games. Jasper listened.
Jasper knew that South River (13-2, 10-2) would probably try to set the ball for outside hitter Madison Carter, who leads the team in kills, and positioned herself accordingly. The strategy worked wonders, as the 5-foot-10 senior knocked down three of Carter’s attacks for blocks.
“She hit into me every time,” Jasper said. “I was just in the right spot and that’s how I got my mojo on, and then we kept on going from there.”
Broadneck also looked more energized than South River entering the pivotal fifth set, which Verostic attributed to difficult practices and weight training.
“We do like Olympic lifts in the weight room a couple times a week,” he said. “These kids are strong right now where I think a lot of other kids in the county might be getting a little tired.”
Meetings between Broadneck and South River usually end in four or five sets. Players from the two teams share a particular familiarity after playing club volleyball with and against one another during the offseason.
Perhaps it’s fitting, then, that they could meet again Nov. 6 in the Maryland 4A East region semifinal. South River will need to defeat the winner of North Point and Annapolis, while Broadneck will need to get past either Great Mills or Leonardtown. The Seahawks would have home-court advantage.
“They’re a good team, I’m not going to lie. They’re a very good team,” Jasper said of South River. “But if we play them again like we played them tonight, we’re going to beat them. I really believe it.”