Holbrook girls netting results
The Holbrook Jr./Sr. High girl’s volleyball team trailed visiting Upper Cape, 6-1, in the first set of their match last week, yet senior captain Danielle Prusik remained calm.
As Upper Cape increased its lead, Prusik kept the morale high, handing out high fives and leading the chatter between serves.
The Bulldogs rallied for a 25-20 win, crushed the Rams, 25-3, in the second set, and clinched their 16th win of the season with a 25-10 victory in the third set.
“The girls playing now are all strong athletes,’’ said Prusik, after Holbrook improved to 16-3 overall and 11-0 in the Mayflower Conference.
Prusik, a 5-foot-7 setter, started playing at the varsity level as an eighth-grader. (Holbrook has a combined junior and senior high school). Now she is the only senior on the team. “I started playing varsity right off the bat,’’ she said. “It gives you the chance to get experience.’’
Ariana Hay, a junior captain who also played varsity as an eighth-grader, has enjoyed being part of a program that improved dramatically the past four seasons.
“When I was in eighth grade we went 2-18. It was really rough,’’ said Hay, a 5-9 hitter. “It’s been great the past few years, especially being league champs last year.’’
On the court, Holbrook is reaping the benefits of offseason work by the players. A few suited up for Southern Alliance, a club team based out of Marshfield.
“The offseason volleyball has made a difference in the pace of our practices,’’ said coach Vincent Hayward. “They have improved so much. The girls are able to pick stuff up better and focus more on strategy. Now we spend less time on basic skills and focus on the thoughtful parts of winning the game.’’
Hayward had no prior experience with the sport before he was named head coach 11 years ago.
“They needed someone to coach volleyball so I did it,’’ said Hayward, now an assistant principal at the school.
“I was coaching volleyball and baseball for a while but once I became an administrator I had to choose one sport. I stuck with volleyball, which is odd, because I never played. It grows on you.’’
And he has learned through the years the importance of a setter to a team’s success.
This season, he is leaning on sophomore Liz Kerek, who has a team-high 65 assists.
“I told her I wanted her to become a setter last year,’’ said Hayward. “She worked on it in the offseason and has come in this year and has been outstanding. I tell her she’s like our [Rajon] Rondo,’’ said Hayward.
“She really gets the ball to our hitters in good positions and she’s consistently leading us with assists in games. Liz emerging as an upper caliber player has given us the fourth player we need.’’
So for each set, Hayward can turn to either the setter-hitter combination of Prusik and Hay or Kerek and junior Elise Morgan. “We now have two tandems to work off of. We’re solid in all of the rotations.’’
Morgan, a 5-11 captain with 236 kills, makes her presence known; her height allows her to jump above the net and deliver powerful spikes.
Upper Cape Coach Nicole Botelho said she had to change her team’s strategy for the match against Holbrook.
“Our main goal was to shut down’’ Morgan, said Botelho. “It’s absolutely harder for the girls going up against a team like Holbrook. Mentality-wise it’s all about prepping the girls. Mentally they knew what they were getting into but (Holbrook) just did a great job.’’
Other factors that have contributed to the team’s growth include a challenging nonleague schedule and the addition of Prusik’s older sister, Kristina, a former player, as an assistant coach.
“I could’ve put together a schedule to give them a shot at an undefeated season,’’ said Hayward. “But they really wanted to be prepared when they got into the playoffs. They got behind the idea of having some losses, but it will be better having played those tough games.’’
He scheduled nonleague matches against Oliver Ames, Notre Dame Academy of Hingham, and Archbishop Williams.
“I love those games,’’ said Hay. “The teams in our league are not very strong. It’s tough when we play games we don’t have to work that hard. We don’t improve at all. Games like that, they’re a lot more intense and help us. They’re definitely going to help us when we get to the tournament.’’
The elder Prusik, a 2007 Holbrook graduate, joined the staff last year. “The program has definitely stepped up,’’ said the former captain. “When I was there, we were kind of one-dimensional. Now it doesn’t matter where the ball is on the court, someone is going to hit it over the net and attack it.’’
Hayward said practices are more efficient with Kristina Prusik present.
“Since she’s come on board, it’s really helped our practices to be more effective. She came on and we won last year and we’ve continued this year,’’ he said.
Prusik is proud to see her little sister follow in her footsteps.
“She takes it to another level,’’ she said. “She has a lot of talent and keeps the kids into the game and gets them into points. She really takes charge on the court.’’
The middle sister, Krystal, also a former captain, currently assists with the junior varsity program.
“I don’t feel pressured now to out beat my sisters,’’ said the youngest Prusik. “Now that the program is strong I feel like we’re better then they were. I want to go further than they did. It’s my senior year, my last year. I want to go all the way.’’