Broncos' deep run comes to end

JOHNS CREEK — Brookwood’s farthest-ever run in the state volleyball playoffs ended Saturday when the Broncos were eliminated 25-12, 25-13, 25-13 by host Northview in the Class AAAAA quarterfinals.

The loss ended a season in which the Broncos beat Grayson for their second Region 8-AAAAA championship, eliminated Stephenson and Mill Creek in the first two rounds and reached the Elite Eight for the first time. But against Northview, state champions in 2005, ’07 and ’08 and a semifinalist last year, the Broncos were outmatched.

“We weren’t intimidated the slightest bit when we came into this gym,” said Brookwood coach Brian Welsch. “We came in here thinking we had a chance to upset them.”

Brookwood (35-16) never led Northview (40-14), and though game, was outmatched by Northview’s more experienced, powerful hitters.

The Broncos were within 13-8 in the first game, before the Titans’ 9-2 run put things out of reach. The second game was tied 10-10 when Northview’s Ashley Gialenias netted a serve, but the Titans’ 11-2 run again created unconquerable distance. The Broncos came from 10 behind to within 19-12 in the third game, but couldn’t gain traction.

Katie Mallow finished with three kills, a block and two digs for the Broncos. Samantha Gratton had three kills, a block and a dig, and Bethany Easom chipped in six assists and three digs. Katie Kraft, weakened by three days of nausea for which she sought medical attention Thursday, played the second and third games and contributed 10 digs.

“We just wanted to play our game, despite who was on the other side of the net,” Kraft said. “It was a great match.”

Mallow acknowledged Northview, a semifinalist against Pope last season, “was the better team on paper. They have so much talent. We were just happy to be here.”

The loss was Brookwood’s second to Northview. The Titans defeated the Broncos 25-11, 25-15 in 2008, with an attack Welsch recalled being similarly dominant.

Northview advanced to Wednesday’s semifinal at Kennesaw Mountain against Harrison, a quarterfinal winner over East Coweta.