Broadneck senior Alli Graf just shrugs her shoulders when asked where she likes to play on the volleyball court.
"Anywhere," she says. "Whatever works."
Well, "whatever works" worked well Tuesday night as the senior led No. 10 Broadneck to a 25-19, 24-26, 25-19, 25-19 victory over second-ranked Centennial in the season opener for both teams.
Graf is playing the defensive specialist role after injuring her shoulder in a beach volleyball game this summer. Though she prefers to play outside hitter, Graf's leadership is key to the Bruins' success.
"They just follow her leadership on the court," said Scott Graf, her father and Broadneck's coach. "I just put her out there and let her direct traffic. I just tell her, 'It's all yours.'"
The Bruins rallied from a 10-6 deficit to tie the first set at 11, then used three kills by senior Dinah Jones, who led Broadneck with 14 for the match, to race to a 25-19 victory.
The Eagles were up to the challenge in the second set, finally putting Broadneck away on a kill by Trisha Mockapetris, who had a team-high 18 for the match, to take the second set, 26-24.
Try as they might, the Eagles — who lost two first-team All-Metro selections in Liz Brown and Sam Brostrom from last year's Class 3A state runners-up — couldn't get in sync. Their passing wasn't sharp, and Broadneck found a way to negate Mockapetris at the net for most of the match.
The Bruins, behind the service of Mimi Graf and Margaret Doody, pulled away midway through the third set to score a 25-19 win. They led most of the final game to take the match with another 25-19 win.
"I think we showed a little more heart than they did," Alli Graf said. "We wanted it more. Even in the second set, when we didn't win, we just held it together until we got the momentum back. When you have the momentum, you have to keep it. That's what we did."
The Bruins returned a lot of experience from last season, and their coach likes the flexibility his players give him.
"We have a ton of athleticism," Scott Graf said. "My challenge is to figure out who to plug in where."
For Centennial, the loss was a learning experience.
"We weren't communicating very well," Eagles coach Larry Schofield said. "We made too many unforced errors, and they were getting to balls we couldn't reach. We definitely have some things to work on."