Blowout win marks varsity’s first league game


Shun Graves

Branson girls varsity volleyball celebrates its three-set win against Terra Linda, Sept. 14, 2022. The team now heads to Las Vegas for a tournament.

By Shun Graves

SAN RAFAEL — Girls varsity volleyball marked two firsts Wednesday evening: Its first MCAL foe this season — defeated in three sets — and the Branson debut of libero Dylan Whisenant.

The swift 25-16, 25-10, 25-21 Branson victory against Terra Linda showcased the entire team’s strengths, from freshmen who fueled critical points to an unyielding offense that kept the opponent at bay. For Whisenant, who transferred to Branson and couldn’t play in earlier games because of athletic regulations, it marked an exhilarating debut.

“It feels so amazing,” she said. “This team is so incredible, and I felt so at home when I started playing.”

The first set ranked among the strongest this season. An early ace by Elena Fisher, then a series of kills, produced an attack that bested Terra Linda’s defense. The Bulls put some of its younger players on the court as the set advanced, and they had some critical moments of their own. Outside hitter Maya Lehman made two kills later that set, sealing the deal for Branson.

If the first set seemed brisk, the second flew by like a bullet. An incisive attack homed in on a Terra Linda team that struggled to return shots. Plays like a setter dump by Celia Tolmie and a kill by Kaitlyn White, a freshman, routed Terra Linda for a double-digit win.

“Having all the freshmen and the newcomers back on the court, and having Dylan back, was really huge for us,” setter Logan Tusher said. “A lot of teamwork went into that, so it feels really good.”

Terra Linda attempted to recalibrate during the third set, reducing its errors and edging to a three-point lead halfway. Then Lauren Dignan made a dig, Tusher got an assist and the ball hit the Terra Linda hardwood after a kill by Sadie Snipes. The Bulls soon clinched the set.

A well-oiled offense won the game for Branson (3-3) against a Terra Linda (14-5) that never fully apprehended it. Branson continues its league play next week at Marin Catholic (8-3) in another test of the Bulls’ lightning attack. But first, the team heads to Las Vegas for the Durango Fall Classic.

The tournament will feature some of the top teams from around the West.

“All of us just going into it are just really excited, because the competition there is amazing,” Snipes said. “No matter how we finish, I think it’s just going to be really fun to play some awesome teams.”

The team heads to Nevada and further league games on solid footing. For Whisenant, the trip to the Silver State will offer another opportunity for the team to bond.

“Travel tournaments with teams are something entirely different from just games. Getting on the plane together, representing our school together — kind of similar to how we do it in club.”