Sophomore setter Jaime Pirotte has been of great service to her Severna Park volleyball teammates this season.
The unbeaten Falcons' 15-11, 16-14, 15-11 victory over previously unbeaten Broadneck on Friday night was a good example.
Against the Bruins, Pirotte was a perfect 25-for-25 serving with seven aces and had 13 assists (passes that lead to kills for points or side-outs). She came into the game serving a team-leading 92 percent with 19 aces, and the game raised her assist total to 133.
"She doesn't have an overpowering serve. She just kind of floats them over. But hitting them is like trying to hit a curve ball," said seventh-year coach Tim Dunbar. "We were running on all cylinders today, and with her assists, Jaime's the team's quarterback."
A quarterback in volleyball?
"It mostly has to do with my passing and trying to get the ball to the other players," explained the 5-foot 7-inch Pirotte after the game. "I kind of talk to the players and let them know what to do."
With the victory, the Falcons (10-0, 4-0 against the league) increased their regular-season winning streak to 86 games, heading into Tuesday's match against Annapolis.
Broadneck (8-1 overall, 5-0), which faces unbeaten Glen Burnie (10-0, 6-0) tomorrow, trailed by as much as six points in all three games before closing strongly. But it couldn't overtake the Falcons.
"Our kids relaxed a little bit at times, but they didn't panic," said Dunbar. "It was good to see that. This was the best game they've played this season."
The Bruins, minus their best server, junior Nikki St. Clair, due to an injury, held a brief 1-0 lead in the third game but quickly fell behind, 6-1.
"Severna Park was here to play today, and we couldn't afford to spot them the points every game like we did," said third-year Bruins coach Glenn Brainer. "Our serving was a little bit weak, and there was a little chemistry missing, but I wouldn't take anything away from Severna Park.
They came to play."
Severna Park got all but nine of its 83 serves over the net, with Jen Conner (nine-for-nine) also having a good night.
But Pirotte helped the Falcons keep the Bruins off balance both offensively and defensively. When she wasn't on the back line, she was digging, bumping or setting the ball to teammates like Cassandra Melton (six kills), Kate Marks (five) and Kim Aller and Jen Conner (each with four).
"It wasn't all me today," said Pirotte. "Kim, Kate and Cassandra were really pounding the ball down."
The Bruins' 6-foot-2-inch Theresa Cornish (71 kills on the season) had 11 kills in the game, but she had a tough time getting them with Aller (51 kills), Marks (47) and Melton (38) opposing her at the net.
By the third game, Cornish and her teammates often found themselves sprawling to the floor in desperate attempts to keep the ball alive.
"We gave them a lot to worry about and kept them thinking," said Dunbar.
"We ran a multiple offense. They had to think about our quick-set, our back-set, our dumps. They couldn't play offense because we were forcing them to play defense."
"We played flatly at times, but that was because they made us flat," said Brainer. "We usually have a lot more sets to our hitters, but they didn't give us a lot of time to set up our plays."