Seniors energize Brentwood volleyball team

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Sunday, September 20, 2020 | 11:01 AM


Two impact players on the Brentwood girls volleyball team are seniors Sidney Wuenschell and Calli Kammermeier.

Coach Kayla Hubsch offered her appreciation for both talented athletes.

“Sidney and Calli have stepped up in the hitting positions this year and should make a big impact with both their blocking and hitting,” Hubsch said. “Sidney has been an outside hitter the past two years but this year could play both at outside hitter and middle hitter because of her blocking skills. She really has an eye for the ball when it comes to defense and can get a good block up most of the time.

“Calli is a power hitter,” Hubsch continued. “She really came into her role this year with her strength as a hitter. She is going to make a big impact with not only her power hitting but also her blocking. She’s really stepped up as one of our key blockers this year.”

Wuenschell finished with the top hitting and serving percentages on the team in 2019. Hubsch said she was the team’s most consistent player, terming Wuenschell an “unsung hero.”

“Sidney is a very consistent player and makes very few errors,” Hubsch said. “She makes some big plays when they are needed. Sidney also plays a really good mental game and does not get easily frazzled, which is a big part of her success.”

Wuenschell, who has a 4.1 GPA, also plays softball but missed her junior year in the outfield because of the covid-19 pandemic that shut down all spring high school sports.

Needless to say, she was amped up to return to the gym with her teammates this fall.

“We have a lot of strong returning players who are all excited to (play) in a new section,” Wuenschell said. “We went up a section and need to play even harder this year.”

Kammermeier, normally a trackster in the spring months, also was thrilled to get back on the court.

“I am super excited for my senior season. I can’t wait to see what we accomplish,” Kammermeier said. “The team looks really good. We have a lot of returning varsity players, and I hope to make playoffs this year.”

Kammermeier keeps score during games for the boys basketball team at Brentwood, has a part-time job and owns a 3.5 GPA.

Hubsch, the Spartans veteran coach, is expecting big things as well from sophomore Olivia Trent.

“Olivia trains all year with her club team and has already improved so much from her freshman year,” Hubsch said. “She has a sense for the ball, and when she gets on top of it, she gets a lot of power into her swing.”

Another factor in 2020 that already has made an impact on the fall season is the pandemic.

Hubsch explained: “The pandemic affected a lot of our summer (training time). We were not able to start until June when we usually start in early May. We also did not have the opportunity to attend camp or participate in a summer league program like we usually do.

“The pandemic also affects how many players we can have in the gym, which really posed a challenge this summer but even more so now with games starting up. The 25-person limit is almost impossible. After our first scrimmage, it was very hard to have one coach and only eight players allowed inside the gym. The subs were in a hallway with chairs 6 feet apart with the girls not having any way of watching the games. It’s crazy to expect an athlete to come in midway through the game after not having been able to watch any of it.

“Team bonding and celebrations are big parts of volleyball. Not being able to get physically close to your teammates is a challenge as well when trying to build chemistry with a team. It’s a struggle, but we are just thankful to be playing right now.”

Despite the pandemic, the Spartans aren’t lacking for players in 2020. There are 26 girls in the program, consisting of 13 seniors and juniors plus 13 sophomores and freshmen.

Wuenschell and Kammermeier are joined by seniors Taylor Davis, Abbey Czerwien, Cesia Garcia, Keara Torrelli and Hanaa Ghassa. Davis was a first-year starter at setter last season. The junior class is represented by Ceci Foley, Paige Mortimore, Karime Mejia-Lopez, Maura Daly, Hannah Fornear and Bella Grimm.

Trent, Brianna Folino, Donna Ramirez-Lopez, Leyna Ho, Mackenzie Castiglione, Jenna Yee and Alivia Starek are sophomores, while leading freshman prospects include Mallory Daly, Naomi Nordeen, Kiersten Finnigan, Shayla Millington, Maryam Almaryani and Baily Emert.

“Our team has moved from A to 2A this year,” Hubsch said, “and we are excited to have competitive games every match. Not knowing our competition is making us work extra hard.”

Wuenschell and Kammermeier, like their teammates, are attending school in a hybrid scenario.

“I’m trying to have a semi-normal senior year,” Wuenschell said. “It’s a blessing we get to play. The pandemic has affected a lot of the bonding. We couldn’t do a lot of team get-togethers or drills. It’s so odd not being able to huddle together after a play, or have everyone on the team cheering you on.”

Kammermeier, in particular, has missed having students and fans in the stands at matches.

“Things are different this year because we can’t have any spectators inside the building,” she said.

Brentwood ended up 8-4 in Section 3-A last season, behind Bishop Canevin (12-0) and Fort Cherry (10-2), then went 1-1 in the postseason. The Spartans defeated Beaver County Christian before losing to eventual WPIAL champion Bishop Canevin in the quarterfinals.

Brentwood has qualified for the playoffs for four consecutive years and was ranked No. 8 in Class A in the Western Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association’s final regular season rankings a year ago.

The Spartans are in Section 2-2A this season, along with Avonworth, Carlynton, Keystone Oaks, North Catholic, Quaker Valley and Seton LaSalle.

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