Sunday, Jun 26, 2016
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SIDELINES

Eagles volleyball still flying high

Only 1 starter back, but Eastwood unbeaten

  • Eagles-still-flying-high-3

    Aricka LaVoy, left, and Brooke Salazar move in to make a play. LaVoy leads the Eagles with 239 digs. Salazar is second on the team with 93 kills.

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  • Eagles-still-flying-high-5

    Brittney Firsdon has 52 kills and is second on the team with 21 blocks.

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  • Eagles-still-flying-high

    Courtney Rolf, left, a senior, leads Eastwood with 149 kills and 56 blocks. Jaci Juergens tops the team with 389 assists and 31 aces. The Eagles are 14-0 overall, 10-0 in the NBC.

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  • Eagles-still-flying-high-6

    Eastwood coach Jeff Beck talks to his team in a match against Lake. Beck led the Eagles to SLL titles in 2009 and 2010.

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Eagles-still-flying-high

Courtney Rolf, left, a senior, leads Eastwood with 149 kills and 56 blocks. Jaci Juergens tops the team with 389 assists and 31 aces. The Eagles are 14-0 overall, 10-0 in the NBC.

The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth
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PEMBERVILLE -- Jeff Beck believed all the ingredients needed for developing a perennial volleyball power existed at Eastwood long before his arrival three years ago.

Considering the Eagles appear to be on course to winning a third straight league championship, Beck's analysis of the situation appears to be on the mark.

The Eagles, 14-0 overall and 10-0 in the Northern Buckeye Conference, are ranked 15th in the Ohio High School Volleyball Coaches Association Division II state poll.

Eastwood has not lost one set in league play.

"It's been a really nice start to the season," Beck said. "We knew we had talent; we just didn't know what direction we'd take."

Coming off back-to-back seasons in which the Eagles claimed Suburban Lakes Leagues championships, uncertainty loomed because of a lack of veteran leadership as they began play in the new NBC. Five of last year's starters graduated.

Eagles-still-flying-high-3

Aricka LaVoy, left, and Brooke Salazar move in to make a play. LaVoy leads the Eagles with 239 digs. Salazar is second on the team with 93 kills.

The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth
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Senior middle-hitter Courtney Rolf represented the only returning starter.

Rolf, a four-year letter winner, admits the Eagles' performance up to this point in the season has been a pleasant surprise.

"We have a whole new team this year," Rolf said. "We have had a lot of girls step up and play big this year."

Rolf, an All-SLL player a year ago, has led the way on the court, both vocally and with her activity near the net. She leads the team with 149 kills and 56 blocks.

"I try to be the one they will go to and look to," said Rolf, a team captain.

Eastwood's best start to a season during Beck's tenure has required more than Rolf's stellar work. She has received plenty of support.

Junior outside hitters Brooke Salazar and Allison Sutton rank second and third in kills with 93 and 61, respectively.

Senior Brittney Firsdon and sophomore Elise Wolff have been good for 52 and 50 kills, respectively. Firsdon also ranks second on the team with 21 blocks.

Additionally, the Eagles have been steady in the back row with junior Aricka LaVoy and freshman Jaci Juergens leading the way.

Eagles-still-flying-high-5

Brittney Firsdon has 52 kills and is second on the team with 21 blocks.

The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth
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LaVoy has produced a team-high 239 digs, while Juergens has provided a team-best 389 assists and 31 aces.

Salazar has accounted for 125 digs, while Cassidy Rolf has added 84, Andrea Kotula 81 and Juergens 69.

Courtney Rolf said the Eagles began to jell during the summer workouts. They started to bond and the team chemistry and confidence in one another began to take shape.

"I think we can do a lot of things when we play together as a team," Courtney Rolf said. "Hopefully we can take this all the way through the league and hopefully through the tournament.

"We have no 'me' girls. We're all level-headed and we all want to win and we all want each other to do as well as ourselves."

Otsego (10-6, 8-2 NBC) has represented the top challenge in the NBC. Yet, Eastwood swept the two matches against the Knights by scores of 25-23, 25-12, 25-15 and 25-15, 25-16 and 25-14.

Beck, who previously coached at Perrysburg, has cautioned the Eagles about becoming overconfident.

So far, they've heeded his words.

Eagles-still-flying-high-6

Eastwood coach Jeff Beck talks to his team in a match against Lake. Beck led the Eagles to SLL titles in 2009 and 2010.

The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth
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"We're starting to do that BG (Bowling Green) thing where we're expecting to compete for a league title no matter who we graduate," said Beck, referring to the perennial Northern Lakes League champions. "I knew Eastwood was strong in athletics over the years and I knew these girls were athletes. I felt I could bring out their skill set and share some knowledge.

"I just knew that everything was in place to get back to winning titles. We knew it wouldn't take long to improve their skill set because the talent was there."

Contact Donald Emmons at: demmons@theblade.com, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @demmons

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