BRUNSWICK — Kirsten Badowski, Anna Krizsa and Maddy Neitzel couldn’t have asked for a better start to their third varsity volleyball seasons.
Each member of the trio established career highs for kills — totaling a whopping 50 — as Brunswick defeated Kenston 25-14, 28-26, 23-25, 25-16 in non-league action Tuesday.
Junior middle hitter Badowski led the way with 27 kills, including 14 over the final two games as the Blue Devils won their first opener since 2014. It was the high-water mark at Brunswick since older sister Ally Badowski uncorked 28 at Strongsville on Oct. 27, 2015.
Junior outside hitter Krizsa fired 12 kills and a match-high three aces, while senior middle hitter Neitzel had 11 kills. All three players also made two blocks.
“As coaches, we feel like our team is still a work in progress because of all the changes,” said Brunswick coach Mande Luttner, whose squad has advanced to regionals in three straight seasons.
“But when you have three big-time hitters with plenty of experience coming back like Kirsten, Anna and Maddy, that’s a pretty good place to start from.”
The Blue Devils only had five players with significant varsity experience prior to hosting the Bombers (1-1). Junior libero Rachael Crucis was phenomenal with 23 digs, while senior defensive specialist Kayla Coughlin made 13 digs in their familiar role as a shutdown duo.
Fortunately for Brunswick, a quartet of junior JV promotees were up to the challenge.
Annie Cupach dished out 35 assists, Katie Fischer had eight helpers, Riley Papa served two aces and Cassie Burson had a momentum-swinging kill in the pivotal second game.
“We have all these first-year varsity players, but we have no worries about them,” Krizsa said. “They have so much talent to offer us and weren’t intimidated at all.”
Neitzel agreed, saying, “They brought so much energy to the court and were so loud on the bench, it was great being part of it. I really enjoyed everything about tonight.”
Senior outside hitter Victoria Jepsen had 10 kills, three blocks and three aces, and junior middle hitter Eva Thorne posted eight kills and a match-best five rejections for the Bombers, who had a height advantage at every position except when lined up against Badowski.
Brunswick also received five kills and four blocks from junior middle hitter Sammie Stark.
“You can try and replicate the atmosphere at scrimmages, but absolutely nothing compares to being on your home court when you bring the energy,” Luttner said. “I don’t think all of the new girls realized the importance of winning our first match since we’ve struggled with that over the years, but I’ll tell you, it felt good.”