Bears seeking fourth straight state title

The area’s best volleyball team aren’t just the queens of the Ohio Valley – they have reign over the state of West Virginia.

Oak Glen is coming off its third-straight Class AA state championship after defeating Herbert Hoover in straight sets, last Novemember.

“There was no doubt in my mind,” Riser said, stating her confidence in last year’s team. “I’m so proud of the way they delivered and came through.”

As for this season, Riser is cautious. Yet, she still has faith that her team can repeat again.

“We have set a goal to return to the state tournament,” Riser said. “We are working toward that goal every day.”

Oak Glen has previously won state titles in 1997, 1998, 2008, 2011 and 2012 – all under Riser’s guidance.

In order to add a sixth championship trophy in the New Cumberland school’s trophy case, Riser will rely on some experienced seniors to get the job done.

Jessica Stivason, one of the area’s top all-around athletes, leads a group of six girls who are in their fourth varisty season.

Emmy Delekta, Taylor Allison, Brianna Evans, Samantha Finkbeiner and Kayla Campos are all hoping to end their high school careers on the highest not possible.

The Golden Bears have three juniors who made an impact as sophomores. Madison Juszczak, Alex Arnott and Kenzie Rosenlieb all saw extensive playing time and will be looked upon even more in 2014.

Taylor McKay is the lone sophomore. Freshmen include: Kinsey Beaver, Lizzie Orenzuk, Alexis Swan and Lindsey Smith.

Oak Glen graduated four talented seniors – Vanessa Hissam, Carissa Williams, Morgan Poling and Jessica Hutton. The team’s seven returning letterwinners are: Stivason, Delekta, Allison, Campos, Juszczak, Rosenlieb and Arnott.

“We remain experienced and hungry for another state title,” Riser said.

Indian Creek

The Redskins are no stranger to success and are coming off one of their most successful campaigns in school history.

Indian Creek won the OVAC 5A title over Edison, last year and finished with over 20 victories.

“It’s huge,” Redskins head coach Crystal Hammack said. “The OVAC title is always one of our goals.

“It is a testament to how hard our kids play and how hard they work.”

Back from last year’s squad are Seniors Kaylee LaRue, Martina Marko, Brooke Spence and one of the most all-around athletic girls in the Ohio Valley in 6-foot-5 hitter Bre Berryman.

Junior Bethany Davis has stepped up as an offensive threat and sophomore Savannah Stanley has the potential to be the area’s assist leader.

Other underclassmen on the varsity roster include, sophomores Sydney Karas, Taylor Mazzaferro and Dakota Devore; along with freshman Renee Antonelli.

The Redskins have six OVAC titles to their name after winning five-straight from 1997 to 2001.

Steubenville

Big Red is a program on the upswing, as it has been for the past few seasons.

“We’ve been improving every year,” said head coach Lynn Meyer, as her team went 14-10 in 2013. “Our team goals are to have a winning record, make the OVAC tournament and to win a sectional tournament game.”

Both of those goals were accomplished last year. Steubenville will be without five key players, who were lost to graduation.

“Abby Taylor was a four-year starter for us,” Meyer said. “Carmie Biasi, Mytia Barker and Brittney Bodo were two-year starters, while Amanda Roscoe was a letterwinner.”

There are four seniors leading this year’s team. Annie Nehrbas is a two-year letterwinner and outside hitter; Taylor Young is a three-year letterwinner and setter, who can also play the outside; Izzie Biasi is a defensive specialist and Justine Wickman is an outside hitter.

Juniors Tenia Barker, Lysaih Rice (a letterwinner), T’sai Smith and Brandy Wasson plan to make an impact. Lexi Biasi, Carlee Jenkins and Rhiannon Petrisko will see action as sophomores.

Junior Emma Mamula and sophomore Diamond Thompson will also suit up for the varsity team.

“We’ve had good summer fitness and saw action in the Indian Creek League,” Meyer said.

Edison

Edison volleyball coach Leah Snyder believes this season will be a bit uncharacteristic for her successful Wildcats. That’s not to say she’s expecting anything less than the solid performances from the past few years.

“This upcoming season will be an interesting one,” Eft said. “With just one senior and 10 freshman on our roster, it is far from normalcy. But I think this group of girls likes living outside of the norm.”

Cassady Jarvis, a starting middle hitter, is the lone senior.

“She’s been a presence on this varsity squad for four years,” Eft said. “She is hungry and ready to take on the challenge of leading this young team.”

Jarvis will serve as a co-captain, along with junior Tera Anderson. Kayleigh Westbrook is another junior who has seen a lot of action for the past two years. Westbrook was previously a defensive specialist who will now be the Wildcats’ libero.

Sarah Ross and Mackenzie Berardinelli are also juniors who are returning letterwinners. Cheyanne Matta is a junior just stepping up to varsity.

Sophomore Skylar Fankhouser is a returning letterwinner at outside hitter and defensive specialist. Stephanie Judy and Sarah Anderson are also sophomores who will play varsity.

Caitlin Shannon, Frankie Russell, Sydni Ward, Allison Crawford, Kiersten Long, McKenzie Morrison, Kayla Huff, Logan Perry, Emily Andreozzi and Molly Keller are Edison’s 10 freshman.

“Though they are young, we are looking for sparks from at least four of our freshmen,” Eft said. “There is still a lot of competition in the gym concerning positions on the floor and we look for that competition to be a factor in the success of this team.”

Catholic Central

With a solid core back from its 14-8 team of a year ago, the Catholic Central volleyball is looking forward to bigger accomplishments in 2014.

“These girls have been working very hard and we hope to have a successful season by making the OVAC tournament and advancing further into the sectionals,” said Crusaders coach Sherri Barber. “I believe our serving, passing and defense will carry us to many wins this season along with our players reading other teams and playing smart ball.”

The Crusaders graduated seven seniors, but four talented upperclassmen will step into leadership roles. The seniors this year are: Distirct 5 honorable mention Megan Lloyd, returning letterwinners Ashlynne Daley and Fran Capaldi and Michaela Torrence, who missed last season due to injury.

Versatile Suzy Thibault leads a group of juniors that include libero Eva Balzano and hitter Anne Fischer. Alex McComb, Rachel and Abigail are other juniors that will see a fair amount of playing time.

Sophomores include Samm Simmons, Chloe Pieniczek, Hannah Spiess, Crissy Fornsaglio, Brittany Bertoia, Shayna Mirabella. The freshmen-Grace Godich, Isabella Schmitz, Emily Kostecki and Bonnie Thibault.

“We have a very smart group of girls that are willing to scrap for any points possible,” Barber said. “Hopefully our hard work will overcome any lack of experience we may have at the varsity level. They are a very coachable group of girls that I look forward to a fun and successful season with.”

Brooke

The Brooke volleyball team is blessed with experience in 2014. There are eight seniors, led by captains Emily Stuck, Kourtney Leonard and Abbey Adams.

Angela Staffileno, Krista D’Ulisse, Kourtney Koscevic, Jentzen Kowcheck and Isabella Preston round out the group that has been extra special for head coach Lori Lynn Jackson.

“These are the eight girls that started with me four years ago in my first year coaching at Brooke,” Jackson said.

Last year, the Bruins went 11-19 and Jackson is positive that there will be even more improvement for this season.

“We had no graduates last year, so we have our entire varsity squad back with some strong additions,” Jackson said.

Taylor Hari and Alexa Gerrard are the team’s juniors; Courtney Elliot, Adrianna Baily and Madison Marchetti are the sophomores and Jenna Cooper and Grace Dodson are the freshman.

“We have 15 girls dressing varsity this year and though I can only play six at a time, I have a strong bench,” Jackson said. “They have worked very hard to get where they are. This is our year.”

Madonna

The Madonna volleyball team has advanced to the past two OVAC 1A volleyball title games.

In 2013, the Blue Dons won the championship. But last year, they were dethroned by Bellaire St. John. Not only did it keep Madonna from the coveted hardware, it snapped a 15-match winning streak in the heart of its season.

Blue Dons coach Jennifer Ewusiak still believes her team will contend for the title, this year. She also feels that a similar streak is achievable.

“It certainly is our goal,” Ewusiak said. “We want to win another title. To qualify for the OVAC tournament, it’s going to take a lot of wins, too. We just hope our play in the regular season can lead us to a strong run throughout the postseason.”

Annie Magnone and Paden Raymond are the seniors leaders after Madonna graduated three seniors from a year ago.

A talented junior class is led by Monica Bragg, with Chloe Conner, Isabella Rosso, Maria Notni, Maddie Moore and Taylor Thompson, Dominique Brown, Eva Bowser and Courtnye Kaczmarek.

Halle Payne and Olivia Moganare freshman that will see playing time.

Madonna finished 24-5 in 2013.

“We have some really talented girls who are capable of stepping up into new positions,”?Ewusiak said.

Toronto

To ensure another berth in the OVAC tournament, several Toronto volleyball players took matters into their own hands.

Seven girls played club volleyball in the offseason to improve their skills and face tough competition in preparation for the prep schedule.

“Each player has quantified their personal goals and stated a team goal which is giving them more focus,” said Red Knights coach Chelsey Flecther. “These young ladies certainly proved they want success through their off season training and dedication.

“Those that played club volleyball – it is obvious by their heightened level of play. They knew what it would take to build on previous success and they handled it.”

The Red Knights are without a senior, but are stocked with talent in the junior class. Emily Anderson, Josey Jones and Miranda Robinson are returning letterwinners.

“These ladies are invaluable,” Fletcher said. “This will be our fifth year together on a court. We know how each other think; they finish my sentences and work gets done before I arrive. It was a no-brainer in making them captains.”

Sydney Troski, Mollie Cheetock and Elyse Price are other juniors with playing experience who will make an impact in 2014. Maddie Robbins and Olivia Kosikowski are juniors just joining the varisty team.

The Toronto sophomores are: Serena Burkey, Megan Lauris, Desiree Meadows and Delaney Meride.

The freshmen are: Gina Fogle, Leslie Phillips, Amelia Kuntz, Jenna Leasure, Anna Rohal and Ashley Anderson.

“I could not be more proud of these young women,” Flecther said. “I ask them for ‘x’ and they throw in the ‘y-z’. They are hungry and motivated and that is exciting. I believe it will prove to be an entertaining volleyball season with the Lady Red Knights.”

Harrison Central

Second-year head coach Sarah Hawthorne and the Huskies are looking for a turnaround this season.

The Huskies limped through a 1-19 season and are still quite young with just two seniors on the roster. Tirzah Curry and Lesley Decker will be the team’s leaders.

The junior class includes Kaylee Toland, D.J. Keesey, Michala Saffell, Sarah Roush, Samantha Middaugh, Bailee Mitchell, Megan Hood and Samantha Raber.

Sophomore looking to make a contribution are Maddy Doty, Caitlin Emhoff, Bre Johnson and Rachel Morrison.

The freshmen class is led by Lyndsey Hennis and Sarah Fink. Ticketed primarily for jayvee duty are Emilee Yoho, Shelbie Mitchell, Katie Heavilin, Emily Moore, Taylor Hunt, Taryn Graham and Joyce Barr.

“After having an injury early in the season, we’ve moved some girls around to different spots, but they’re staying positive and working hard to get better,” Hawthorne said. “We have a pretty young team, but we have high expectations based on what we’ve seen so far from them.”

Buckeye Local

Taking over the Panthers program is Jeremy Millard, who owns four years of head coaching experience in northwest Alaska before returning to his alma mater.

He takes over a team that finished 3-17 and lost seniors Morgan Fedorko and Morgan Staten to graduation.

“We’re very strong in senior leadership,” Millard said. “Our seniors are dedicated to making this the best volleyball season Buckeye Local has seen in a long time. We are fundamentally strong and conditioned well. I am ecstatic to bring the Buckeye Local traditions I learned as a Panther football player (pride, heart and character) to the volleyball program.”

The starting lineup is expected to be all seniors. Lexus Fedorko, Destiny Christian, Kierstyn Czuchran, Amanda Barbarossa, Kylie Lovinski and Bailee Morocco are all in their final prep seasons and will be on the floor when the Panthers open.

Senior Kala Petrella and junior Adrienne Yanssens round out the varsity unit.

Weir

Despite losing eight seniors, Weir High head coach Carrie Magnone is encouraged, hopeful, and impressed by her underclassmen who have stepped up in 2014.

“The Lady Riders are coming into this season working extremely hard, and hungry for a chance to advance to regionals and states,” Magnone said. ” My seniors have taken a lead with the younger athletes and it has helped tremendously with improving the girls skills of the game.”

Leading the way for their senior seasons are: Samantha Tate, Kayla Margerum, Megan Longwell and Christine Robinson.

Hailee Bloomer, Kylee Leathers, Helena McAllister, Brianna Fierro and Taylor Zdan are the juniors.

“The keys to success include playing for one another, and moving as one unit,” Magnone said. “The girls have become a family since the season has started, and are motivated to learn and grow as a team as they strive for success.”

Members of the sophomore class will see some playing time. Megan Apesos, Morgan Mills, Elizabeth Gillette, Mariah Stevens, Stacie McKinney, Katie Bennett and Kali Potock make up that group.

Rounding out the roster are freshmen Allison Phillips, Keara Kush, Shakira Elmore and Michayla Horne.