Both the Toledo Christian and Perrysburg volleyball teams hope a trip to the state tournament this weekend will help them overcome some unfair typecasting.
In the case of Toledo Christian, the Eagles have been pigeonholed as being a one-player squad focused on Maggie Busch. Perrysburg has been labeled as a three-person team that relies on setter Amber Lopez and hitters Melissa Szkutnik and Chelsea Campbell.
Both coaches feel nothing could be further from the truth.
In any team sport you need everyone functioning and doing their jobs well to have success, said Toledo Christian coach Dave Conley. Maggie is a great player, but without everyone pulling their load, we wouldn t have gotten to where we are.
Perrysburg coach Jeff Beck echoed those sentiments.
If a team doesn t believe in each other, it s not going to go anywhere, Beck said. We realize now that our supporting cast has to step up and perform its role too. We re not out for individual glory we re out for team glory.
Busch, a senior hitter who will play in college at Michigan, leads the team with 312 kills, including 28 in the Eagles regional final victory over Kalida, and has added 274 digs and 67 service aces.
But Conley said the play of senior setter Sarah Evans also has been crucial to TC s success.
I ve always felt the setter is the most important player on the court, Conley said. Sarah Evans does a great job for us. We can t have any kills, and we can t run our offense, unless she is playing well.
Evans, who does almost all the setting for the Eagles, has 674 assists as well as 41 service aces.
Plus Sarah has to block and she has to play defense, Conley said. She s a steady, strong kid who is tough mentally. She does a lot of things well.
Evans options to set to include more than just Busch as seniors Sara Schweer and Jasmine Vugrinac had 11 and eight kills, respectively, against Kalida. Vugrinac ranks second on the team with 225 kills and also has 41 aces, while Schweer has contributed 216 digs.
Sara Schweer had a really good game Saturday, Conley said. She s so consistent, so steady. She s never too far up or too far down.
Jasmine Vugrinac was solid blocking on Saturday. She s anchored the middle for us all season.
Conley also pointed to the play of juniors Shannon Longenecker, Abby Ashbaucher, Danielle Schad and Jenna Curcio as crucial to his team s tournament run.
Shannon Longenecker has been nicked up by injuries, but she won t let me take her out of games. She s just a warrior, Conley said. Abby Ashbaucher is a great talent whom people tend to overlook. When we get her the ball, she can put it down.
Danielle Schad is a defensive specialist who had 19 digs against Kalida, which was huge, and Jenna Curcio is a defensive specialist who has played a big part in our tournament run.
Conley said the Eagles (22-5) will enter tonight s Division IV semifinal against New Knoxville determined to not be satisfied with just getting this far.
It is a thrill and an amazing blessing to be there, but we re not going down to Dayton just to be there, he said. We know we re going to have to play our best, but we re going down to try and win a state title.
Perrysburg will enter its Division I semifinal tomorrow against Cincinnati Mother of Mercy with a 21-6 record. While the Yellow Jackets have three players who will play at Division I colleges next season Szkutnik at Ohio, Campbell at Xavier, and Lopez at Marist the squad suffered through a lackluster regular season.
It s hard when a good team starts the season 3-5, and it s hard when people say you should win the league and you don t, Beck said. After we lost for the second time to Bowling Green, then shot ourselves in the foot against Northview, and didn t win the [Northern Lakes] League title, we had to refocus.
We had to erase our goals board and start over. We decided to refocus, play as a team, work hard, and not lose again. We just wanted to advance as far as we can in the tournament and here we are.
Unquestionably the talents of Szkutnik and Campbell, who are tied for the team lead with 407 kills, and Lopez, who has 801 assists, have been important to the tournament run.
Amber leads our offense, and she mixes things up very well, Beck said. Chelsea is very intense, very driven, very goal-oriented, and wants to win. Melissa is a force at the net, and is very versatile.
But Beck said the contributions of the supporting cast also have been critical.
He cited the play of Lauren Naveaux, who has 44 blocks; Jenny Shafer, who leads the team with 50 aces; and libero Jordan Hamons, who has a team-best 417 digs, as examples of others stepping forward under pressure.
Our serve defense in the tournament has become a strength, Beck said. Jordan Hamons really has stepped up in the tournament. When she has played well, her defensive play has been infectious.
Beck said the team s first trip to the state tournament since 1981 really began when the team accepted a team-first atmosphere.
At first I thought that might be a hard sell, but our girls bought into that right away, he said. They jumped on board, and they focused on team goals.
As a result, we re the only unranked team in the final four. Everything we do from now on is just icing on the cake.