The following story appeared in this morning’s Gaithersburg, Maryland, Gazette.news.
Future pilot leads Eagles
by Ted Black
Long after her high school playing days are over, Grace Brethren senior Shelly Engel plans to follow in her parents’ footsteps and fly military fighter planes.
Engel gained an appreciation for fighter planes while growing up in California, where her parents, Richard and Connie Engel, were stationed at Edwards Air Force Base. Her father has since retired, but her mom continues to fly and Engel would like to follow in her footsteps someday. But in the meantime she is seeking to hone her volleyball skills this year before heading to college next fall.
As the midway point of the season approaches, Engel is one of the main reasons the Eagles could be soaring to a Potomac Valley Athletic Conference title this fall.
Monday afternoon against a young, inexperienced Barrie School squad, Grace Brethren (7-4 overall, 5-1 in the PVAC) made quick work of the Mustangs by sweeping the visitors 25-8, 25-19 and 25-18. The match wasn’t as tight as the scores indicate, as Engel had limited playing time in the last two games.
‘‘I know it’s not about me, it’s about the team,” said Engel, whose two older sisters Lindsey and Jen also graduated from the school. ‘‘The other girls have to learn how to play together. Most of them will be back here next year and I won’t, so they have to begin playing together.”
Grace Brethren 15th-year coach Dan Schlueter left Engel on the floor long enough to ensure that his team would attain the victory Monday, but he wasn’t about to embarrass the Mustangs by keeping her in the game at all times. Barrie players had difficulty with Engel’s crisp overhand serves. In the third game, after the talented senior rattled off eight straight service winners, including five aces, Schlueter replaced her.
‘‘I have a couple of seniors on the team, but no juniors,” Schlueter said. ‘‘So I wanted to get the sophomores in there so they could get used to playing together.”
Barrie (0-6) was overmatched early when Grace Brethren vaulted to 8-0 and 15-2 leads.
Engel, who plays club volleyball year-round with the Metro American 18-and-under squad, is hoping to play in college next fall. This weekend, she plans to visit Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., to meet with the coach and some of the players. Before she embarks on flying F-16’s, Engel has a few more years of volleyball ahead of her.
With her team trailing 8-2 early in the third game, Engel whistled eight consecutive overhand serves at the Barrie defenders, many of which appeared incapable of handling the incoming shots. Four of her serves were true aces off the floor, while two others punished Alea Safier and Michelle Gilbert, who reacted slowly to one serve and took the ball off of her chin.
After Engel had rallied the Eagles from an 8-2 deficit to a 10-8 lead in the third game, Schlueter removed her from the game. With their best player on the bench, the Eagles traded points with the visitors until a surge by the Mustangs gave them an 18-16 edge. Schlueter inserted Engel and Rhonda Curry back into the game.
Bolstered by their return, Grace Brethren closed the match with a 9-0 run.