Quiet through the first half of the opening set, Marist sophomore middle Mary Clare Brusek went up and swung away on a Nikki Jones pass.
She smashed a kill into the middle of the Mother McAuley defense, turning around and letting out a celebratory scream with her teammates.
The RedHawks were still down but definitely not out.
The Brusek kill started a huge run as Marist rallied for the first-set win on the way to a 26-24, 25-22 victory on Sept. 26 over rival host Mother McAuley.
“You felt the momentum change,” Brusek said. “When you get that huge point, it’s a huge shift in the game. It was a really exciting win.”
Brusek (Queen of Martyrs) finished with 5 kills and 3 blocks, including 3 kills as part of a 14-8 Marist run to close the first set.
Brusek played varsity basketball with the RedHawks as a freshman but tried to embrace the craziness in her debut in the varsity rivalry.
“I was just so happy. It was exhilarating playing,” Brusek said. “It was almost a relief to just play, like the pressure was off. Once we started to play like we normally do, it clicked and we were all together.”
The sophomore wasn’t the only key contributor late as Camryn Hannah added 3 kills and Maddie Arundel powered 3 kills and 2 aces in the run.
Stepping to the service line, Arundel unleashes a powerful jump serve with the ball screaming over the net and quickly dropping to defenders’ knees and ankles.
For Arundel, it’s a heck of a weapon to use, even if she’d been struggling of late.
“My serving had been my main focus these last couple practices,” Arundel said. “It hasn’t been the best in previous games. I knew what I needed to do. I worked as hard as I could so I could show it tonight.”
Up 25-24 after a Hannah clean kill at the middle, Marist turned to Avery Jedry for the game-winner, the senior blasting a kill off the McAuley block.
Arundel though wasn’t done serving though.
The Ferris State recruit served up back-to-back aces as the RedHawks went up 10-6 in the second set. She finished with 7 kills, 6 aces and 20 digs as Marist improved to 15-2.
“Credit to McAuley. They made it a great game,” Arundel said. “It’s like any other match, but with this atmosphere, we brought so much energy. We prepared for it like it was any other game. We put our head down and went to work.”
Hannah (6 kills, 3 blocks), Mairead Boyle (19 digs) and Jones (27 assists) all provided key contributions for the RedHawks.
Prepping for a playoff-like atmosphere at Mother McAuley and the always rambunctious Mighty Macs student section, Hannah and the RedHawks were ready for the upped noise levels.
“We turned the music up really loud in practice. We all made a playlist before the season and just crank it,” Hannah, a Clemson recruit, said. “We were all talking.”
Hannah drilled the game-winner in the second set, a hard shot up the line past the Mighty Mac block.
After a tough 3-set loss to rival Benet on Sept. 21 in the championship game at the Wheaton-Warrenville South tournament, the win was a timely one for the RedHawks.
“I think it was a statement win. It was a statement to us more than anything else,” Hannah said. “We’re focused on us, not anyone else. We’re not the same team we were last year or the year before. It’s a new team, and we have to find that [success].”