Winning one city title is difficult, but to do what Young did Friday is a sign of consistency and success. The Dolphins took home their fourth consecutive Public League title by defeating Brooks 25-21, 25-23 at Hyde Park.
Despite constantly losing top players, including two high-major Division I players from last season, Young continually finds a way to win. But it hasn’t always that easy this season for the Dolphins.
“It took a little bit of time for us to gel because we lost a bunch of key players,’’ libero Nikki Pietrus said. “Once we started to play as a team, everything went a lot more smoothly.’’
Much like they did in the first meeting between the schools (a three-set Brooks win), the Dolphins got off to a fast start in Game 1, building a 9-3 lead thanks to two aces apiece by Pietrus and Jessica Giannoni.
Every time the Eagles tried to make a comeback, the Dolphins fought back. When a kill by Dominique Mason brought Brooks to within 14-12, Young went on a 7-2 run to put the set out of reach. The Dolphins (19-9) blocked the Eagles three times in the stretch and were aided by three other Brooks errors.
Game 2 was one most would expect to see in a championship match. With both teams trading points back-and-forth, neither was able to secure a comfortable lead.
Young built a 20-17 lead in Game 2 before Brooks (16-12) went on a 6-2 run to take a 23-22 lead. The Eagles got two kills from Myah Reed in the spurt. After an error by Molly McGrath, the Dolphins got a kill from Danyelle Williams, an ace from Pietrus and an error by Brooks to give them the title.
“It’s exciting to win three in a row,’’ said McGrath, who picked up her third title in her three-year Dolphin career. “It’s difficult to do it every year because it’s a different group of people every year, but it says a lot about us.’’
While the loss puts a downer on the end of Brooks’ regular season, what the Eagles were able to achieve this season was impressive. The Brooks program was a fledgling one when coach Amber Payden took over four years ago. The Eagles played for the Public League title despite coming into the playoffs as a seven seed, upsetting Northside and Kennedy along the way.
McGrath, Williams and Ann Ernst each had three kills for Young, while Janel Daniels had five kills and Mason four for Brooks.