River middle hitter Maeve Kessler, shown here earlier this season
against Midview, proved too much for Brookside to handle last
week in the Division II sectional championship match. (West
Life photo by Larry Bennet)
upends Brookside to win sectional crown
By Dan Gilles
Published May 12, 2010
pretty good about itself heading into the postseason. The 16-6 Cardinals
were seeded third in the Division II Sectional/District Tournament
at Keystone and were able to knock off the host Wildcats just prior
to the regular season’s conclusion.
their first postseason match – a sectional final clash with unseeded
Rocky River – the good feelings came to a close.
Instead of having
a third crack at Patriot Athletic Conference rival Buckeye in yesterday’s
district semifinals, Brookside was at home.
Buoyed by the
play of middle hitters Maeve and Ciara Kessler, the Pirates proved
to be too much for the Cardinals in their sectional final clash
last Thursday night, coming away with a 25-21, 23-25, 25-21, 25-17
In the early
sectional final, second-seeded Buckeye dispatched Firelands, 25-13,
25-13, 25-12, setting up a Buckeye-Rocky River district semifinal
last night. Top-seeded Bay took on unseeded Avon in the other
district semi. The Rockets defeated Holy Name 25-23, 26-24, 20-25,
25-15 last Wednesday.
championship match is scheduled for 7 p.m. tomorrow at Keystone.
For Rocky River,
senior Maeve Kessler had 28 kills and three blocks, while her sister,
junior Ciera Kessler, added 18 kills. They were set up by Maggie
Krajcer’s 51 assists and 12 digs.
“No. 17 (Maeve)
and No. 18 (Ciera) – that’s as simple as it gets,” Brookside coach
Ted Whitsel said. “We didn’t have an answer for them. They set them
every single time, and we couldn’t defend it. So, we go home and
they go on.
18 were their solution to beating Brookside. I don’t have an answer
to that,” he said.
Time and time
again, the hitting of the Kesslers spurred on big runs for the Pirates
(16-8) and also prevented the Cardinals (16-7) from going on any
big runs of their own.
“We felt pretty
confident coming in to tonight,” Rocky River coach Kelly Bennett
said. “The Kesslers are our go-to kids, and when we’re passing well,
we can get the ball to them as much as we want. They’re big, they’re
athletic, they can hit over people and they really just put the
ball down for us.”
Kady Whitsel was 58-of-58 setting with 28 assists, 15 digs and 10
service points. Gabby Woods was 66-of-68 setting with 20 assists,
Jeanine Musall was 45-of-49 hitting with 21 kills and 3 blocks,
while Kayla Chrosniak was 19-of-24 hitting with 9 kills.
the Pirates’ confidence was a five-set preseason match with Brookside
on the eve of the regular season. Rocky River, treating that match
like a regular season match, prevailed. However, a lot can change
from April to October.
“I knew (Rocky
River) was a good team,” Whitsel said. “We scouted them twice against
Bay and Fairview, and we scrimmaged them, so I knew about them.
We knew what was going to happen out there. Heck I could have called
where their set was going.
however, is we didn’t execute. When we know their game plan that
well, you should be able to stop them. But, we couldn’t,” he said.
In the first
three sets, both teams battled through back-and-forth scoring in
the early going. But, in the first and third sets, the Pirates were
able to shake free for a decent run, which wound up being the difference
in the two wins.
the early control of a must-win second game and was able to hold
off the stubborn Pirates. The Cardinals longest run was 4-0, and,
with the score tied at 18, they were able to outscore Rocky River,
7-5, down the stretch.
“They just executed
like they can (in the second game),” Whitsel said. “But the first,
third and fourth games, we didn’t execute very well. We didn’t do
the things we know how to do. It wasn’t really that we battled back,
we just played like we can and did a few things that were right.”
took control of the third set in the early going and opened up a
20-14 lead. The Cardinals made another late run, but, just as the
first game, it wasn’t enough. As a result, Rocky River took control
of the match with the 2-1 lead, needing just one more win to advance.
“I thought we
played really well in the first, and Brookside really picked up
their defense in the second game,” Bennett said. “But, we were confident.
We knew we could play with them. But, it was huge to get that third
built off of that third game win by getting off to a hot start in
the fourth and final game. They opened up a 10-7 lead with a 10-3
run, capped by a 9-1 spurt, to grab a 20-10 advantage that was too
much for the Cardinals to overcome.
was second in the West Shore Conference for a reason. Unfortunately,
we don’t have an answer to those two middles.” Whitsel said.