A freshman, a junior and a pair of seniors — the 2013 Lorain County volleyball players of the year are a diverse bunch.
Avon Lake senior Katie Mihalik, the school record holder in kills, earned Division I player of the year honors, while Clearview senior hitter Heather Younkin, a Kent State signee, earned Division II honors. Elyria Catholic freshman Jessie Lee, who wasn’t even supposed to be on the Panthers’ varsity roster this season, was named the Division III player of the year, while Lake Ridge Academy junior hitter Hannah Guidish took the Division IV honors.
Mihalik, a 6-foot hitter who will sign to play collegiately at Cleveland State today at Avon Lake High School, rewrote the school record book when it comes to kills. She leaves the program as the career leader with 722, with the record for kills in a season with 310 this year, and for kills in a match with 28, set against Amherst late this year.
“Katie played for me as a freshman, and the first thing I noticed about her was how hard she was willing to work,” Avon Lake coach Dan Burkheimer said. “She’s always been very talented, but without that work ethic things probably would have turned out differently. She was a great leader for our program and helped her teammates believe in themselves.”
Younkin was one of the most dominant net players in the area this season. With her long arms and incredible leaping ability, she can touch a basketball rim from a flat-footed jump.
One match best described what Younkin was about. On Sept. 24, her Clippers, leaders of the Patriot Athletic Conference Stripes Division, squared off with Keystone, leaders of the PAC Stars.
Younkin dominated. She set a school record with 30 kills, added 14 blocks, eight block-kills and threw in 13 digs for good measure.
“This is the fun part about Heather,” Clearview coach Dave Dorinski said after the match. “She is going to get instructions every now and then. She’s so talented. It’s nice to pull her aside and say, ‘Heather, this is what we need’ and she’ll do that. Every coach wants a player like that.”
Lee, a 5-11 freshman, was ticketed for a season of junior varsity volleyball, but after the Panthers’ leading hitter Rachel Duffield suffered a season-ending knee injury in the preseason, Lee was promoted to varsity. She never looked back.
“She made a big difference when our team really needed her,” Elyria Catholic coach Jennifer Lee said. “We needed someone to step in. Jessie just didn’t step in, she thrived. She took command and made a huge difference for us this season.”
Lee, who is working with Elyria coach Jodie Johnson on setting, will become the Panthers’ primary setter next season. Not bad for a girl that posted 329 kills as a freshman.
“I’m really excited about next season,” Lee said. “We have some very good young players coming into the program and I am going to get to set and hit. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Lake Ridge coach Regan Pore is pleased to have Guidish for another season. Guidish made the most of the critical plays for the Lions this season.
“She really stepped up as a leader this season and really thrived in that role,” Pore said of Guidish. “She pushed through a lot and became out go-to player. Whenever we needed a big kill or a big block, we looked to Hannah and she came through time after time.”
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ALL- LORAIN COUNTY TEAMS
Avon Lake: Katie Mihalik (senior); Lauren Bakaitis (senior); Amherst: Mallory Sliman (senior); Riley Schenk (senior); Elyria: Alexis Middlebrooks (senior); Tyra Darden (junior); Midview: Meghan Higley (senior); Avon: Liz Zollos (junior).
Lorain: Marlena Guice (junior); North Ridgeville: Jessica Lentz (senor); Avon Lake: Alaina Sliwinski (junior); Amherst: Madison Cruzado (freshman); Ashley Makruski (sophomore); Midview: Cassie Haight (sophomore); Avon: Sarah Berkheimer (senior); Erin Cannon (senior).
Player of the Year: Katie Mihalik (Avon Lake senior); Coach of the Year: Laurie Cogan (Amherst).
Clearview: Heather Younkin (senior); Sarah Ernst (senior); Firelands: Paige O’Connell (senior); Casey Morrissette (senior); Keystone: Morgan Myers (senior); Brookside: Tyller Holley (junior); Morgan Brinkman (senior); Vermilion: Sydney Virgin (senior).
Keystone: Brooke Trego (junior); Emily Peters (senior); Jenna Quillen (senior); Clearview: Madison Fortune (sophomore); Madison Fortney (sophomore); Firelands: Katie Michener (sophomore); Brookside: Lisa Campo (junior); Vermilion: Abbey Bodeker (senior).
Player of the Year: Heather Younkin (Clearview senior); Coach of the Year: Dave Dorinski (Clearview).
Elyria Catholic: Jessie Lee (freshman); Becca Pronesti (senior); Maryssa Kellick (junior); Columbia: Megan Hawke (senior); Emily Viccarone (senior); Allison Schafer (sophomore); Wellington: Jill Jackson (senior); Ashley Gott (senior).
Player of the Year: Jessie Lee (Elyria Catholic freshman); Coach of the Year: Jen Lee (Elyria Catholic).
Lake Ridge: Hannah Guidish (junior); Cassidy Kolczun (junior); Abbey Wilgor (junior); Emma Esch (sophomore); Sarah Chriss (sophomore); Open Door: Alyssa Sooy (senior); Christa Mindling (junior); Mallory Phillips (junior).