Redwood defeats Bulls in tough four-set game


Oliver Goldman

Logan Tusher serves the ball during the girls varsity volleyball game at Redwood, Oct. 14, 2022. Branson faced a four-set defeat but showed some offensive and defensive strengths.

By Shun Graves

LARKSPUR — Girls varsity volleyball fought back against a tough Redwood attack, but the Bulls’ MCAL foe ultimately won the Friday showdown.

The 23-25, 25-21, 20-25, 11-25 game for Branson, however, revealed some defensive strengths, especially in the come-from-behind second-set victory. And as the team heads to the Marin County Athletic League playoffs next week, Branson remains near the top of the league rankings.

Each team’s offense battled it out during the first set. Outside hitters Elena Fisher and Sadie Snipes faced Redwood’s Jaden Hendrickson and Emma McDermott in a battle for kills. Meanwhile, Branson scrapped for balls with some impressive saves by libero Lauren Dignan, while Redwood pushed a powerful at-the-net block. The Larkspur team ended the set only two points ahead.

Logan Tusher kicked off the second set with two setter dumps. A fierce play-by-play ensued, but chaos descended on Redwood’s side. Errors, plus a kill by Snipes, cost Redwood its early lead. And Branson’s defense made a defiant showing with critical digs from Dignan and Dylan Whisenant, who played libero that set. All told, Branson won the set by four points.

“We were super patient,” coach Michelle Brazil said. “If things weren’t quite right, we just put the ball in a good place. We weren’t trying to force the situation.”

In the first set and the third set, I thought we did a really good job of fighting back. But there was too much of a roller coaster ride to climb back from.

— Michelle Brazil

Tusher inaugurated the third set with another setter dump. Yet Redwood pushed back as it made some powerful blocks and kills. Missed shots and digs by the Bulls kept Redwood ahead, and Branson finished five points behind.

“I thought we got impatient,” Brazil added. “In the first set and the third set, I thought we did a really good job of fighting back. But there was too much of a roller coaster ride to climb back from.”

Momentum lapsed during the fourth set. Redwood more frequently got the Bulls to commit unforced errors, and in one instance, a Redwood setter dump surprised Branson. An ace by Redwood clinched the set and thus the top MCAL seed.

“They definitely gave us a run for our money,” said McDermott, a Redwood hitter, of Branson. “But I really feel like we had the energy.”

It was quite a run. Fisher had a double-double with 22 kills and 17 digs. Dignan led the defense with 19 digs, while Snipes added 14 kills to the offense.

A large Branson attendance answered the Redwood home crowd with energy of its own. And class of 2022 libero Gia Fisher, who now plays beach volleyball at the University of California, Berkeley, supported her former teammates from the sidelines.

“Our whole team always appreciates the energy that she brings and her smile and everything that she brings to the table,” Elena Fisher said. “It’s nice having her back.”

MCAL playoffs take place next week. Brazil said Branson faces a rematch with Marin Catholic Wednesday, then likely Redwood on Friday.

“We didn’t necessarily play to our potential the last time,” Fisher said of Marin Catholic. “It’s been kind of a while since our last game. I think we’re all super excited for the rematch. And bounce back and hopefully take a dub.”