Seniors Courtney Brandon and Jessica Smith end college career with a kill
November 9, 2002
by James J. Portune
Olympia, WA - Sooner of later a college athletic career must end. So it has become traditional in college sports for graduating seniors to be honored at the final home game of the season. For Courtney Brandon (Pomeroy, WA / Pomeroy HS) and Jessica Smith (Miami, FL / Fairfield HS) the 2002 schedule could not have been more idea, as the final game of the year ended at home against Southern Oregon.
It would have been nicer if Evergreen (7-20, 4-14 CCC) had defeated the 15th-ranked Raiders (19-4, 16-2 CCC) but that was not to be. In four games Southern Oregon was victories three times (30-27, 29-31, 30-27, 30-17) and maintained their 2nd-place standing in the Cascade Conference, heading into next weeks post season tournament.
"What are the odds," asked Geoduck Sports play-by-play announcer Kevin Mac, "of two departing seniors going out with kills? Especially when neither one of the plays were orchestrated."
The play-by-play summary of the official stats shows that in the fourth and final game, which Evergreen lost 30-17, the Geoducks 16th points was scored on a kill by Brandon, assist from Hanna Plunk (Broomfield, CO / Broomfield HS). On the next subsequent play the printout reads "Kill by Smith, Jessica."
"Courtney has been a cornerstone of this program," said head coach Bill Lash. "She has established a mark in kills and blocks that will stand for some time.
With 281 kills and 69 blocks this season and 226 kills and 69 blocks in 2001 Brandon leaves Evergreen, having transferred from Walla Walla Community College, with a 507 career kills and 139 career blocks, Geoduck records.
Fittingly, Brandon lead the Geoduck in both categories (16 kills / 5 blocks) in the loss to Southern Oregon.
A likely candidate to fill Brandon's shoes is freshman Kristen Bartley (Lubbock, TX / Monterey HS). With 173 kills on the season Bartley is the Geoducks #3 hitter. Against the Raiders she recorded five kills on twelve attempts and had no hitting errors.
"Kristen has done what we asked of her," remarked Lash, "and has successfully made the transition from high school to college volleyball. As she continues to play through the summer she will only get better and could very easily be a force to be recounted with next season."