Things didn’t change a whole lot in the 2007 volleyball season. Most everyone either got a bit better, fell off just a tad or pretty much stayed the course.
There were, however, two teams in the area that made dramatic improvements this fall.
Midview was one game below .500 in 2006. The Middies ended this season with a dozen more victories than losses at 18-6.
“Obviously, I am pleased that they got better as the year went on,” Midview coach Debbie Borsz said.
The record reflected that. The Middies were 6-4 at one time, then won 12 of 13 matches and never went to five games in any of them. Hudson (19-6) was the only team to defeat the Middies in that run, in three games at Midview’s Cannon Classic tournament. For an encore, Midview forced defending West Shore Conference champion Fairview to share the title.
Borsz said it was no surprise things looked up this season.
“What I really like about these girls is that I can give them an idea, they understand what I want and they adjust,” Borsz said. “This is the first team I’ve ever had that can do that.”
It might also be the first team Borsz had that believed the team comes first.
“They’re not selfish,” she said. “Our players are totally team-oriented. They want to win more than anything. Usually, you don’t find that in people that age.”
The Middies’ two big-time players — setter Hannah Duran and middle hitter Jacki Street — are back next year. But Borsz said it was the way seniors like outside hitters Lauren Gauverau, Kelsey Voit and Sara DuBois and libero Courtney Chalmers stepped up that got the team back to the summit.
Midview has a winning tradition. The other greatly improved team, Brookside, doesn’t. Coach Ted Whitsel was relieved that the ’07 Cardinals failed to adapt a loser’s mentality.
“There’s this matter of the Brookside jinx,” Whitsel said. “There’s a feeling around the school at times that we’re always going to lose. This team doesn’t think like that. These girls go out thinking they can win every match.”
They’ve won six more of them than last season, so far. The Cardinals stuck their feet in the door in 2006 with a
13-10 record. This year, they knocked the door down and have advanced to the district tournament.
“The first Buckeye match was a perfect example,” Whitsel said. “They lost, but on the bus going back the girls all talked about how they would beat Buckeye the next time.”
They did beat them the next time, and the next time after that — knocking the Bucks out in a sectional match Thursday. Buckeye had eliminated the Cardinals in a sectional first-round match in ’06.
Whitsel acknowledges that having Taryn Leonard, a senior transfer from Elyria Catholic, helped a lot, but he added that his outstanding junior group carried much of the load last year as sophomores.
“We knew the junior class would be good, and we think the sophomore class will be as good next year,” Whitsel said. “Almost all the girls are playing Junior Olympics in the offseason. Playing at that high level all year has been a boost.”
Brookside is 19-4. Standing in the way is Padua — also
19-4 and now the favorite to win the district now that top seed and No. 4 state-ranked Keystone is out. Brookside will meet the Bruins tonight in LaGrange at 5:30.
Elyria Catholic lost to Independence last night in a district final. The Blue Devils were the only one of three district qualifiers at the Elyria Division III tournament that isn’t a member of the North Coast League.
In fact, the 10-team NCL has seven teams competing in district tournaments. Three of them — Padua and Lake Catholic in Division II and Villa Angela-St. Joseph in Division III — are favored to get to their respective regionals.
“You really realize how competitive our league is when you play outside of it,” Elyria Catholic coach Kim Watson said. “We have lost three outside the league — Louisville, Keystone and Norwalk.”
That’s two Division II teams and a Division I club, with a combined record of 61-14. That’s not bad for a team that went 7-6 in the NLC.
Watson says it would be no surprise if three or four NCL teams made it to regionals, adding that had Keystone not suffered a run of horrible luck with an ankle injury to its All-Ohio middle hitter Kari Kincannon and the hospitalization of second-leading hitter Chloe Irish, the Wildcats’ winning still would have been no sure thing.
“Padua tied with Lake Catholic for first place in our league,” Watson said. “That is saying a lot.”
Contact Steve Byrne at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
ZOE ZWEGAT, ELYRIA CATHOLIC
POSITION: Middle hitter
LAST WEEK: Zwegat’s blocking was a major reason the Panthers advanced from the Division III sectional. She had 12 blocks and was 11-of-13 hitting with three kills.
PARENTS: Tina and Frederick Zwegat
OTHER SPORTS: None
BIO: Zoe loves to travel. She’s been to Scotland, where she said she was awestruck by the scenery in the Highlands, and has been as far as California and Florida in the United States. When she’s home and not in school or on the volleyball court, Zoe enjoys reading and hanging out with friends.
FUTURE PLANS: Zoe would like to attend college, play intercollegiate volleyball and major in English. She’s interested in a career in journalism.