PIQUA — Sidney’s volleyball squad didn’t fair well in scrimmages and didn’t fair well in a season-opening tri-match against Wapakoneta and Indian Lake last Saturday.
The Yellow Jackets showed improvement this week in Miami Valley League Valley Division matches. They beat Fairborn 3-2 on the road on Tuesday and followed with a 3-1 win at Piqua on Thursday to even their overall record to 2-2.
Sidney started strong at Piqua by winning the first set 25-16 but lost the second 25-23 and fell behind early in the third. The Yellow Jackets rallied to win the third 25-23, then pulled away quickly and won the fourth 25-13.
“Getting the girls to buy into a new culture has been the biggest thing,” first-year coach Dexter Tobie said. “We’re trying to get them to understand their potential and play to their potential. We had a couple rough preseason games that brought some things to light, and I think we’re finally working towards improvement. It’s starting to show.
“… I was really happy with the fourth set. It showed that we have the potential to put games away. I think we did kind of slack off towards the end on those last couple of points, but overall, it was a good win.”
After struggling for years, Sidney finished 13-10 and 15-8 in its last two seasons in the Greater Western Ohio Conference. The squad then finished 13-11 in 2019 in the first year of the MVL and won the inaugural Valley Division title, which was the program’s first league title since 1988.
Coach Lauren Moore departed after the season, and the squad struggled to a 4-17 record in 2020 and a 5-18 record last season under coach Megan Verhoff.
Tobie had worked as Sidney’s eighth grade volleyball coach for each of the previous four seasons, where he guided all the current varsity players. The current junior players won MVL regular season and postseason titles under Tobie as eighth graders in 2019, while the seniors won 13 matches in 2017 and the freshman won 14 matches last year.
“There’s a lot that the league has not seen of these girls (on varsity) the last couple of years, and they’re ready to show it,” Tobie said. “They all had winning seasons in junior high, so I told them we’re going to continue that now in high school.”
Tobie said it’s been a team effort so far as players mesh together. He said one highlight has been the play of freshman setter Alena Swearigen, who is guiding the team’s offense. She has eight aces to her credit through four matches and has made 62 assists.
Junior outside hitter Kyla Rush has made 33 kills while freshman Kaela Rush has made 23. Senior defensive specialist Kennah Herrick has made 57 digs.
“Everybody has a little bit to add to the game,” Tobie said. “Everybody has unique qualities. I think everybody’s playing well at the positions we need to. We’re playing unselfishly right now. We’re understanding how players need to help others help the team.”
Sidney lost the first set at Fairborn 25-13 on Tuesday but won the second 25-22. After losing the third 25-18, the Yellow Jackets won the last two 25-23 and 15-11. The squad scored the last four points in the fifth set to earn the victory.
“We’re trying to play through those tough situations,” Tobie said.
The Yellow Jackets are scheduled to play at Minster on Saturday.
Strong start for Fort Loramie
Fort Loramie is off to a 4-1 start and has already pulled out a couple of close wins.
The Redskins rallied after losing 28-26, 26-24 to rival Minster in the first two sets of a nonconference match on Tuesday and won the last three 25-16, 25-16, 15-11 to earn the win.
The squad also beat St. Marys 25-23, 25-23 in their third match of the Coldwater Spikeoff last Saturday; they lost 25-17, 25-17 to defending Div. IV state runner-up St. Henry in the Spikeoff and beat New Knoxville 25-14, 25-14.
Fort Loramie, which beat Anna 3-0 on Thursday, is scheduled to return to action by hosting Botkins on Tuesday.
Through the squad’s first five matches, junior outside hitter Summer Hoying has accumulated 44 kills while sophomore outside hitter Avery Brandewie has accumulated 35.
Russia can’t keep up with New Bremen
Russia is hoping to break through and earn a state berth after reaching the regionals the last five years and not advancing further.
The Raiders got an early season tune-up on Tuesday, as they lost to New Bremen 25-16, 25-8, 25-16.
The Cardinals have most of their squad back from last season’s campaign, in which they won their first 24 matches before losing to Midwest Athletic Conference rival and eventual D-IV state champion New Knoxville in a district final.
Russia has most of its squad back from a 16-11 campaign but couldn’t keep up on Tuesday. The Cardinals made 28 kills in the three sets and had 15 aces.
Russia bounced back in its Shelby County Athletic League opener on Thursday by beating Jackson Center 25-23, 22-25, 28-26, 25-14.
Three unbeaten teams left
Only three area team are unbeaten after one week of play: Fairlawn, New Bremen and Versailles.
The Jets (3-0) are scheduled to travel to Riverside on Saturday and host Russia on Tuesday. New Bremen (2-0) is scheduled to host Wapakoneta on Tuesday. The Tigers (4-0), which beat St. Henry in the Coldwater Spikeoff last week, are scheduled to host Celina on Tuesday.
The Tigers and the Cardinals will face each other in their MAC opener on Thursday in New Bremen.