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Brooks tandem leads Union to Region 2D title

Jeff Birchfield • Nov 4, 2018 at 1:53 AM

BIG STONE GAP — Union volleyball players Zoe Brooks and Emili Brooks are cousins, although they’re more like twin sisters when they step on the court.

Junior Emili Brooks finished with 21 kills, eight digs and three blocks, senior Zoe Brooks had 43 assists and the Lady Bears romped to the Region 2D championship with a 25-19, 25-14, 25-16 win over Lebanon on Saturday night at Union.

“We started playing sports together; we played basketball when I was 3 and she was 2,” Zoe Brooks said. “We’ve played on teams together for many, many years. We don’t even have to speak to each other. We can give each other looks and we know what the other one is thinking. I’m a year older than her, but I feel more like a twin than a cousin.”

Meghan Blagg also had a big offensive output with 20 kills for Union (24-4). Jayda Smith contributed 10 kills, three digs, two blocks and two aces.

“Our hitters did well, but it takes every single one of us,” Lady Bears coach Kim Moore said. “We have some size at the net and we can put the ball down. But defense wins championships and I’m proud of our defense. Without our passing and without that defense, we can’t get the ball to those hitters to put the ball down. It’s an entire team effort and takes every one of us.”

Desi Brooks, the younger sister of Emili, led that defensive effort with 14 digs. Pia Morgan came up with seven digs and Abbi Dickenson finished with six.

On the other side, the Lady Pioneers suffered a setback in the early going when setter Kayla Bollinger was injured at the net and helped off the floor. She had 11 assists before leaving the match.

“Their setter went down the first game, but Lebanon still battled,” Moore said. “They still fought hard, so we had to stay with the intensity and stay in the mode. I’m just happy for the girls because they’ve invested a lot of time and I’m proud of them.”

Next up for the Lady Bears is the VHSL Class 2 tournament and a possible rematch with Radford, depending on the outcome of the Lady Bobcats’ meeting with Giles County on Tuesday. Radford eliminated Union from the state quarterfinals last season but would have to come to Union next Saturday at 4 p.m., Moore said.

Emili Brooks said it was important Saturday night not to give the Lady Pioneers any chance of building momentum. Union jumped ahead early in all three sets and each time Lebanon made a run, but the Lady Bears stayed steady and pulled away for the sweep.

“One thing we do is go first one to five (points), first one to 10, and so on,” Brooks said. “We break each match up five points at a time. This feels really good and all of us want to have another chance at Radford.”

Cassidy Burke led Lebanon with 11 kills, seven digs and two blocks. Kara Long had nine kills, seven digs and two blocks, and Jaylee Stanley ended with 15 assists.

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