Branson pulls another win despite third-set scare


Shun Graves

Anna Palfy and Elena Fisher during Branson’s home game against Tamalpais, Oct. 7, 2022. The Bulls won the game in three sets.

By Shun Graves

Girls varsity volleyball continued a streak of three-set wins, but Tamalpais nearly forced a fourth set Friday evening in the latest Branson victory.

The 25-14, 25-9, 26-24 home game put the Branson offense in the spotlight. Tamalpais, ranked fourth in the Marin County Athletic League, took a lead during the third set after dropping the first two. The Bulls, however, made up a six-point deficit and finally clinched that set.

Tamalpais paced Branson to begin the first set. But a consistent attack from Branson’s hitters kept the Bulls in the lead. With six kills from Sadie Snipes and four from Elena Fisher, Tamalpais couldn’t keep up. Branson won the set by 11 points.

Branson’s MCAL foe fell further behind during the second set. A faltering attack and lackluster defense proved no match for an unbending offense from the Bulls. Kills from Fisher, Kaitlyn White and Margaux Barber boosted Branson to a double-digit lead. When Barber made her third kill that set, the ball hit the floor with a decisive thud. The Bulls had won the set by 16 points.

“We played really well the first two sets,” coach Michelle Brazil said. “And it wasn’t like they played badly, necessarily. I felt like we made them look worse than they were.”

The third set nearly turned the tables. Tamalpais, freshly acclimated to Branson’s play, tamped down on its errors to make a more consistent attack. It worked — for a bit. Branson’s opponent made digs as it countered the Bulls’ offense. In one such instance halfway through the set, Fisher aimed a thunder at Tamalpais, which briskly returned the ball, forcing another kill attempt.

We need to just be attuned to our team and do what we do best on our side of the court. And let the craziness happen on the other side.”

— Margaux Barber

“Sometimes it’s not about delivering, but it’s about creating chaos,” Brazil added. “We’ve been working a lot on not making errors and working on creating chaos. And so I thought that she really delivered in that way.”

The Branson offense’s mettle ultimately won out. A kill by Snipes finally tied the set at the 20-point mark, but it remained close to the very end. Branson clinched the set at 26 points.

“Their defense picked up really fast, and they started scrapping harder for balls,” libero Dylan Whisenant said of Tamalpais. “We had to figure out a way to work around that and score points to skirt that.”

Girls varsity volleyball heads to the Central Valley Saturday morning for the Stockton Classic. Depending on the bracket, the team could face some familiar adversaries, from Archbishop Mitty to Marin Catholic.

“Our goal is to take as many teams down as possible and come together as a team, play as a team and win as a team,” Whisenant added.

League play continues next week with games against San Rafael and Redwood, which now ranks first in the MCAL after defeating Marin Catholic Friday night. But first, the Stockton tournament will offer the team familiar challenges.

“We need to just be attuned to our team and do what we do best on our side of the court,” middle hitter Margaux Barber said. “And let the craziness happen on the other side.”