West Shore Conference
By Joe Ostrica and Ryan Kaczmarski
Avon High School volleyball head coach Julie Radigan knows her squad will have to battle to top last year’s 15-8 overall record (11-3 in the West Shore Conference) this year. With six returning letter winners, the Lady Eagles are up for the challenge.
“We play in a competitive conference and have an intense schedule,” Radigan said. “Each team in our conference presents a unique challenge. We are looking forward to meeting and overcoming those challenges over the course of the season.”
Seniors Erin Cannon (libero) and Sarah Berkheimer (outside hitter) and juniors Liz Zollos (outside hitter), Alli Novak (setter), Rachel Steinert (middle hitter) and Megan Romanchok (setter) are the key returners for Avon. Junior defensive specialist Nicole Braunscheidel, sophomore setter Sarah Sprecher and sophomore setter Rebecca Olach are among the new faces Radigan hopes will make an impact for the Lady Eagles this fall.
“We have set many goals for our program this year, and we look forward to taking steps towards accomplishing those goals both in our conference and postseason play,” Radigan said.
The Rocky River High School volleyball team finished in third place in the WSC last season, and having the benefit of not losing any players to graduation, the Pirates are looking to take the conference title outright this season.
“We had a talented group last year, but graduated no one, so we have an experienced and motivated group of five seniors,” Pirates head coach Kelly Bennett said. “We have high expectations.”
The starters are seniors Mary Kate Krajcer (outside hitter – first team All-WSC, second team All-District in 2012), Kara Coffman (outside hitter – second team All-WSC, district honorable mention in 2012), Olivia Lloyd George (defensive specialist), Jessica Laskowski (opposite side hitter) and Mindy Kurz (setter); sophomore Justine Laskowski (middle hitter); and junior Mallory Scott (middle hitter).
“Mary Kate Krajcer and Kara Coffman will continue to be our go-to kids. However, we are expecting much more from our middles, Coffman and Scott – who will be a strong offensive force as well – this season,” Bennett explained. “Krajcer and Coffman bring the talent and experience that you look for in captains on the floor.
“My setter (Kurz) is a true vocal leader on the court,” she added. “She is encouraging, has a big heart and wants all of her teammates to be successful.”
The Bay High School squad is coming off a season in which the Rockets went 7-7 in the WSC (12-11 overall), a somewhat down year for the program.
“Last year’s varsity squad was rather young,” first-year head coach Katie McCarthy-Keck said. “We started several sophomores and even had freshmen on the court at times.
“We have five returning letter winners and five exciting newcomers on this year’s squad,” she added. “Seniors Bridget Durham and Savannah Skelly will lead us at the net. Megan Lowry, a junior, will lead the team as setter again this year.”
Laura Wilson and McKenna Coyle will be the Rockets’ outside hitters, and are expected to provide the bulk of the defense, along with Emma Jarvi.
“As my first year as the head coach at Bay, we are working hard to go far,” McCarthy-Keck said. “My coaching staff is phenomenal and we couldn’t be more excited to get the season started.”
The North Ridgeville High School volleyball team hopes to improve on last year’s 6-23 record. The Lady Rangers went winless in WSC competition, going 0-14.
“Last year we had a very young team,” head coach Dana Peterson said. “There were more underclassmen than upperclassman on the team. We took last year to develop the younger players and get them used to the varsity pace. Although our record doesn’t show it, most of matches were competitive and close in scoring.
“This season, with eight eturning lettermen, we will have a veteran type team. We have some weaknesses to work on, but our goal is find consistency as the season progresses.”
Seniors Jessica Lentz (outside hitter) and Emily Daveant (libero) are returning captains for Ridgeville.
“Both players will be pivotal in our team’s offense and defense,” Peterson said. “These girls live and breathe volleyball. They push each other and their teammates to work hard during every practice and game. “
Juniors Nicole Andrews (outside hitter), Emily Duke (setter), Julie Hansen (right side hitter), Alyssa Riley (outside hitter) and Maddie Schauer (middle hitter) and sophomore Ashlee Kapferer (middle hitter) are North Ridgeville’s other returning letter winners. Juniors Melissa Dwulat (outside hitter), Emily Gommel (defensive specialist) and Nicole Wolf (middle hitter) are among the new faces on the roster this year.
“North Ridgeville has always struggled in the WSC,” Peterson said. “However, this year, I believe we have the maturity and experience to be a contender. Avon and Elyria Catholic have always come out as top teams. Last year, one of our best matches was against the (Elyria Catholic) Panthers, so we are looking forward to seeing them again this year.”
PHOTO: The Avon volleyball squad includes (front row, L-R) Nicole Braunscheidel, Sarah Berkheimer, Erin Cannon, Alli Novak, Sarah Sprecher. Back row: Coach Hall, Brianna Conroy, Rachel Steinert, Rebecca Olach, Megan Romanchok, Elizabeth Zollos, Coach Radigan. Photo – Taylor Neigh