Brighton off to volleyball regional

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BRIGHTON —The Brighton volleyball team has shown over this season that it’s been strong between the lines.

But coach Shelley Sims has had to work with her girls between the ears this season.

“They’re all very capable girls,” she said. “But they’ve got to be more offensive-minded, as far as what they do with the ball. On defense, it’s not so much about thinking, but about going out and doing.”

The Bulldogs will try to do so in a Class A regional tonight at Howell against an old foe, Farmington Hills Mercy.

Brighton lost in the regional semifinals to Mercy in 2oo9 and 2011, but will try to break the spell in the second game of the regional doubleheader at Howell.

“Everyone’s pumped up and ready to go,” Brighton’s Heather L’Esperance said. “We have the talent. We just have to put in the work and have the energy and a positive attitude.”

Sims says her team’s mental approach will be key against the Marlins.

“They have a little more offense than what I’m used to seeing out of them,” she said of Mercy. “I think we have more offense than we’ve had in the past. It just doesn’t always show.”

L’Esperance says this year’s Bulldogs have something going for them that they haven’t had in recent years.

“We’re all nice to each other on and off the court,” she said. “That doesn’t always happen, but this team is good with that. It’s very important because if you don’t have that chemistry and that  bond, it’s hard to work together as a team.”

It’s the time of year where teams look for any advantage, and Sims believes that playing in Howell might be helpful.

“They’ve never played at Howell, and we have,” L’Esperance said. “We’re familiar with the court and the gym.”

“Hopefully,” Sims said, “we’ll have some fans out there, friends and teammates cheering us on.”

The winner will take on either Novi or Walled Lake Central in Thursday’s regional final.