Needing one point to win the Region III championship, senior outside hitter Kellen Dorotik sent a kill through the Central Heights Lady Devils’ defense, landing on the floor, and sealing their win at Athens High School Saturday afternoon.
Following the kill, Dorotik fell to her knees, as did the other five on the court. The six yelled with excitement as they were mobbed, by their teammates, one second later to celebrate the win.
“It was an unreal feeling. I didn’t know how to feel. It still hasn’t hit me that we’re going to state,” Dorotik said. “I think we were all just so excited, and we were all just confused on how to react because this win was just so, so important.”
The Central Heights Lady Devils played the Brahmarettes tough, but East Bernard held off every rally, winning 25-22, 25-18, 25-21.
The win sends East Bernard to the state tournament for the first time since 2020. However, in 2020, it was during COVID and the Brahmarettes did not get to experience the state tournament with the state semi-final played off-site.
East Bernard made the regional tournament but lost in the finals last year. The Brahmarettes this season are riding a 20-game win streak, which includes beating Bellville, the number one team in 4A, heading into the playoffs.
The chemistry on the team (is great),” Dorotik said. “We know we can (win), and we know we’re all there for each other.”
A strong defense and fiery kills helped propel East Bernard to their win.
“We played really good defense and our serve receive passing was pretty lights out,” Brahmarrettes coach Breanna Lolley said. “We were able to run out middles which opened up Kellen to be able to get some kills on the (outside). Everybody contributed and did really good things.”
Dorotik was dominant in the final set with kills and blocks. Fellow senior Lexie Warncke added three aces during the set.
East Bernard jumped out to an early 10-5 lead, but Central Heights reeled off six straight points to take their only lead of the set. The game remained tight, with both teams trading points with four different ties.
A Central Heights error gave the ball back to East Bernard with the lead 18-17. Warncke landed her third ace of the set putting them up by two points. Dorotik followed with a block on a Central Heights kill attempt. An East Bernard error stopped a short 3-0 and made it a two-point game.
Warncke dove and dug the ensuing Central Heights serve, passing the ball to junior Abby Hudgins. She set the ball and Dorotik landed a missile past a Lady Devils defender. Dorotik stomped on the floor as she and the team began to feel the moment. Dorotik added another block to make it 22-18. East Bernard gave the Lady Devils the ball again after an error, but it was short-lived with senior middle blocker Bailey Leopold blocking their kill attempt. One point away, the Lady Devils picked up back-to-back points forcing an East Bernard time-out.
Regrouped and back on the court, Dorotik landed the final kill from the back row to finish off their sweep through Region III.
“I’m super proud of them. From the beginning (of the season) I knew it was possible deep down,” Lolley said. “They’ve never stopped believing in each other and themselves and when you have those things anything is possible.”
Four teams are left alive in 3A, East Bernard, Columbus, Gunter and Bushland. East Bernard will play Bushland in Garland on Thursday. The winner will play the winner of Columbus and Gunter on Saturday.