Friday, August 24, 2001

Cincinnati volleyball preview


Mt. Notre Dame seeks 4th straight title By Dave Schutte Enquirer Contributor

        The bar has been raised to a record high for the Mount Notre Dame volleyball team.

        Division I state champions the past three seasons, coach Donna Mechley and Cougars are poised to go after an unprecedented fourth consecutive championship and the school's fifth overall.

        Seton (1984, '85, '86) and Mount Notre Dame are the only Division I teams to win three straight championships. Seton holds the record for the most Division I championships with five.

        In the Enquirer's preseason poll, six teams received first-place votes with Mount Notre Dame emerging as the favorite followed by Mercy, Ursuline, McAuley and St. Ursula.

        “We have seven seniors but only one got considerable playing time last year,” Mechley said. “Our strength is defense, but our weaknesses are a young setter, shorter outside hitters and inexperience.”

        Roger Bacon is the favorite in the Divisions II-III-IV poll with Badin, Reading, Williamsburg and McNicholas rounding out the top five.

        The following is a look at the top teams:

        1. Mount Notre Dame: Senior middle hitter Kim Cherry, junior outside hitter Nicole LoVaglio sophomore outside hitter Danielle Meyer are the mainstays for a senior-laden team.

        Known as one of the best defensive teams in the state in the past, the Cougars success hinges on the players dedication in this area.

        “It's a pretty overwhelming challenge,” Mechley said. “Basically, we only have one and half starting positions returning and one of those (LoVaglio) sprained an ankle.”

        2. Mercy: “We are ready this year.”

        That is the warning issued by coach Denise Ortman who's Bobcats appear to have no weaknesses.

        Jessica Schoenfeld, a 5-foot, 11-inch senior middle hitter, will lead a tall and talented inside group that includes Beth Dangel (5-11), Laura Obert (6-foot) and Liz Holmes (6-foot).

        Junior Ashley Heisel will handle setting while senior Laura Wiegele is the top returning defensive player.

        3. Ursuline: Junior setter Kelly Byrnes is the key player for a tall and talented team that also will rely heavily on Stephanie Blackburn and Aliya Riddle.

        “We have a fairly tall team and were expecting a lot from our blockers and offense,” coach Aime Meyer said. “We're also quick on defense and have expectation from them as well.”

        4. McAuley: First-year coach Kristi Nadler inherits a talented team that lacks a proven setter.

        Senior middle hitter Kristen Rust, the GGCL Player of the Year in 2000, will be joined by Emily Huey, Lindsay Thiery and Brittany Grote.

        5. St. Ursula:Although coach Julie Perry lost five players to graduation and returns only two seniors, optimism is high that the Bulldogs have the talent to challenge for the No.1 spot.

        “We have so many options because of the talent,” Perry said. “We have three setters and can run so many different things.”

        Senior Megan Agner and Tory Neyer will be joined by juniors Laura Cassinelli, Rachel Youss and Emily Verkamp.

        A strong corp of sophomores (Tricia Cronin, Beth Shelton, Beth Gillming, Bryn Kehoe, Molly Slepitz and Meaghan Mooney) will see action along with freshman Maggie Schmeltza.

        6. Oak Hills: Coming off a school-best 20-4 season, the Highlanders again will field a strong team that is loaded with veterans.

        Michelle Holmes, a 6-2 middle hitter, setter Andrea Veite, outside hitter Jackie Kramer and the Walroth twins, Elaine and Julie, are the top returning players.

        7. Seton: The Saints will field a young squad with only two seniors.

        However, juniors Amy Schiller (middle hitter) and Jackie Gentile (setter), will be the foundation of a team big on the inside and strong on defense.

        8. Lakota West: The lack of a proven setter might be tough for the Firebirds to overcome.

        Seniors Sara Bergheger, Kari Binggeli, Lindsay Simpson and Tara Swift, along with junior Laura Tyburski, are the top returning players.

        9. Lakota East: Defense and passing will be the Thunderhawks strengths.

        Setter Christina Stiens (246 assists) will team with Jenn Jackson (80 kills), Janice Matacic (95 digs) and Susan Lupidi (138 digs) to lead the way for coach Jeni Case.

        10. Sycamore: If first-year setter Ashley Butler is effective, the Aviators could surface as a top five team.

        Christine McMahon (219 kills), Mandy Ebel (33 kills), Stephanie Everett, Jessica Fitzwilson and Laurie Domas also will play important roles.
       Divisions II-IV

        1. Roger Bacon: The Spartans starting lineup is intact which could lead to a third consecutive appearance in the Division II state tournament.

        “Finishing as state runner-up the past two seasons, our girls are determined to get back to Wright State (Nutter Center),” coach Caryl Schawe said.

        Gutsy setter and team leader Emily Withers, along with Brittney Holden and Jamie Gettinger, are three key players for the Spartans.

        2. Badin: The Rams return six letter winners from a team that upset McNicholas to claim the Division II district title last year.

        Look for Jenni Horvath, Lisa Mignery, Tracey Harrell, Stephanie Sphire, Amy Zecher and Claire Alfers to lead the way.

        3. Reading: Returning all-city performers Cara Peace and Danielle Davis are the cornerstones of a talented and deep Blue Devil squad.

        4. Williamsburg: Under veteran coach Ed Stewart, the Wildcats have compiled a 431-97 record the past 22 seasons.

        Blessed with eight talented seniors, Stewart might field his best team in years with Cari Carter, Megan Wolf, Morgan Wolf and Whitney Brown the leaders.

       



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