Mary Oldham felt she let her team down at the end of the third set when her hit from the middle sailed to the left and out of bounds ending a back-and-forth game. Ravenwood High School clinched a 28-26 victory over Brentwood in the set with the error and gained a 2-1 edge in games in the District 12-AAA showdown Tuesday.
“That’s just the worst feeling,” the Lady Bruins senior said. “I was pouting in the huddle, but you know what, I was like, ‘screw it.’ I probably shouldn’t say that, but I needed to prove myself.
“I want to win because, obviously, we are Brentwood. We want to win more than we want to breathe as (coach Barbara Campbell) says.”
Oldham poured in a career-high 31 kills and collected 18 digs, five blocks and three aces to rally the shorthanded Brentwood girls to a 25-18, 22-25, 26-28, 25-20, 15-12 victory – the Lady Bruins 87th consecutive regular season district win.
Oldham has been the catalyst behind Brentwood’s drive to stay on top. The seven-time defending Class AAA champions have been pushed in back-to-back weeks playing without four varsity players due to COVID-19 quarantine, including Alabama commit Shaye Eggleston, who was the state’s player of the year in 2019.
“I’m just so proud of them,” coach Campbell said. “I mean, they just keep finding ways to win. I don’t think Shaye will recognize this team when she comes back.”
Brentwood prevails 15-12 in the fifth. The Lady Bruins keep finding ways to win despite missing players. Brentwood rallies at Ravenwood for a five-set District 12-AAA win. Here’s the match point —> (watch for story and gallery!) #BattleoftheWoods pic.twitter.com/EgUGfHxJgZ— Charles Pulliam (@cspulliam) September 16, 2020
The senior returns to the lineup Thursday when the Lady Bruins host Centennial and will rejoin a team that’s managed to rally for a district win in five sets at Summit last week and overcome top Class AAA teams like Houston, Cookeville and Siegel during a busy play-day tournament Saturday. Their only setback without a full roster came against defending Class AA champion Nolensville on Saturday, a 25-18, 16-25, 15-13 defeat.
Oldham and the Lady Bruins have looked to setter Dylan Sulcer as another leader. The sophomore dished out a career-best 53 assists and had 20 digs in Tuesday’s win over Ravenwood. Brentwood improved to 18-2 overall and 7-0 in district play.
“Playing without players like Shaye have made me a smarter setter and they are all pushing me to be better,” Sulcer said. “I have to put more trust in my teammates to get the ball down and I know I can rely on teammates like Mary to finish it.”
“Dylan is kind of quiet, but I was telling her to demand the ball because she has to control everything,” Oldham added. “She’s going to be our leader next year here and she needs to know how to want the ball so she can run this team.”
The two combined for a block and Sulcer fed Oldham on a quick sweeping move to the right side for the final point of the fourth set – a 25-20 Lady Bruins win to force the tie-breaker. Brentwood raced out to a 10-1 lead in the fifth set before the Lady Raptors were able to regroup and chip away.
Ravenwood senior Calli Riggs triggered a four-point flurry for the home team with a kill and a service ace. She closed with a season-high 16 kills, while Kelsie Dawson (14) and Tanya Sichling (13) both reached double figures in kills as well.
“We just kind of fell apart,” Riggs said of Ravenwood in the fourth and beginning of the fifth sets. “We lost our teamwork … I think overall, we fought back.
“We are starting to find that grit and want to play better.”
Kelsie Dawson caps a Ravenwood rally. The Lady Raptors pull even with Brentwood at a set apiece after a 25-22 win in the second. pic.twitter.com/vZVpGFljV0— Charles Pulliam (@cspulliam) September 16, 2020
After giving up 10 of the first 11 points in the tie-breaker, Ravenwood went on a 9-2 run, capped by an Avery LePore kill and a Brentwood hitting error to pull within 12-10.
“This is just one of those rivalries you always want to win,” Riggs added. “We’ve been trying our best.”
Hollye Tate’s hit from left side ended the marathon matchup as the Lady Bruins hung on for a 15-12 win nearly seven years to the day since their last regular season district loss – a five-set setback at home against the Lady Raptors.
After trading the first two sets, Ravenwood built a 19-15 lead late in the third set only to watch Brentwood pull even at 22-22 on an Oldham kill from the middle. The two teams traded points with the Lady Raptors earning the first game point following a LePore ace to give Ravenwood a 24-23 edge. Oldham answered and a Lady Raptor hitting error made it 25-24 Brentwood. Dawson notched a kill for the home team to make it 25-all. Both Ellie Kimpel and Lana Gruver tacked on late kills off the Brentwood block to give the Lady Raptors the edge before Oldham’s errant hit closed the see-saw set.
A winning streak dating back seven years this month was threatened Tuesday night in Spring H…
“These past couple weeks have been a learning process for everyone and honestly for me, I think it’s helped me become more diverse,” Oldham said. “We’ve learned so much, I think we are going to be 10 times better … We are getting our main hitter back and it will be nice to be able to mix it up more instead of going to just the same person.”
Both schools will play in a one-day tournament Saturday in Franklin. Ravenwood's next match is Wednesday at Centennial.
Brentwood def. Ravenwood, 3-2
Kills – BHS 58 (Mary Oldham 31, Hollye Tate 11, CeCe Meyer 10); RHS 60 (Calli Riggs 16, Kelsie Dawson 14, Tanya Sichling 13). Aces – BHS 11 (Oldham 3, Dylan Sulcer 3); RHS 11 (Kennedy Riggs 2, Avery LePore 2, Calli Riggs 2, Lana Gruver 2). Blocks – BHS 8 (Oldham 5, Reese Bailey 3); RHS 7 (Ellie Kimpel 3, Dawson 2). Digs – BHS 107 (Haley Sanders 28, Sulcer 20, Oldham 18); RHS 113 (Bella LePore 28, K. Riggs 22, Ali Mullendore 20). Assists – BHS 57 (Sulcer 53); RHS 57 (K. Riggs 48).