By Michael Muldoon
---- — Todd Royce knew Brenna McNally would be a special talent early in her freshman year.
“We had a game at Salem, Brenna’s first time in that type of atmosphere,” recalled the Pinkerton volleyball coach. “It was a back-and-forth game the whole way. We finally got a match point and the set ends up going to Brenna. She handled it like she had been in those situations for years and put the final ball away.
“That game showed a lot about Brenna and it was a glimpse of how special this young lady would be.”
Special enough that she should be a lock to earn Eagle-Tribune All-Star honors for the third straight year, a feat only accomplished eight times in the last 25 years.
The 5-7 outside hitter from Derry also set school career records in kills (792), digs (1,212) and aces (301). The ace mark is believed to be a state record as well.
She, too, fondly recalls that 2009 Salem showdown.
“That was a big game,” said McNally. “Salem is always very good. It was really exciting. It was just the heat of the moment. I wanted the ball to come to me. I had the mindset I’d win that point.”
It was even more special because Salem was coached by her club team coach Dan Young and her mother, Cindy McNally, had started up the Salem program and coached the Blue Devils for several years.
McNally invariably rises to the occasion on the volleyball court, the tennis court (she’s an Eagle-Tribune All-Star doubles player) and in the classroom.
The Female Moynihan Scholar-Athlete for October is ranked 20th in a class of a little over 700 students. She scored a 1,930 on her SATs and is a member of the National Honor Society.
Of her success as a scholar-athlete, McNally said, “It definitely takes a lot of hard work. It’s all part of the high school experience. I like both sides of it. There definitely have been some late nights and some early mornings to get up to finish the work. It’s worth it.”
Royce said its worth it coaching when you have athletes like McNally.
“I’ve been privileged to coach such a fine young lady,” he said. “I’ve gotten to see her grow from a shy young freshman to a humble leader both on and off the floor. She has been more than the phenomenal stats she has compiled. Brenna is an outstanding person, a great teammate and a positive role model to everyone she has contact with.”
Her mother, father (longtime local AD Brian) and sister Brittany (a 2007 Eagle-Tribune All-Star) are all Springfield College alums and her parents are both active in the alumni association.
“I’m a bit of a tradition breaker,” she said with a laugh. “I’m finding my own path.”
That path will likely take her to Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, Pa., or Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio.
She hopes to play college volleyball and in the future would like to work with animals.
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