RUSSIA — Russia senior outside hitter Kate Sherman surpassed 1,000 career kills earlier this week. That wasn’t one of the goals she and the Raiders have been focusing on, though.
Sherman is one of nine seniors on the team. The squad has been successful throughout the players’ time in the program; the Raiders have won at least 16 matches and earned district titles each season in that time.
But they haven’t won a Shelby County Athletic League title or advanced beyond regionals, and that’s what Sherman wants most this season.
“Obviously getting to state’s a big goal, and we want to win the SCAL outright,” Sherman said. “Winning the SCAL is a big goal of mine; we’ve never done it. I think this is our year for this.”
The Raiders (12-4, 8-0 SCAL) took a big step toward the SCAL title goal by rallying to beat Fort Loramie 3-2 last Thursday. The Redskins won the first two sets 25-17, 27-25 but Russia won the last three 25-17, 25-14, 15-13 to earn a victory.
“We’re an older team, so we’re disciplined, and we know what it takes to get it done,” Sherman said. “We know that we had to have grit and keep it going if we wanted to reverse sweep them.”
Russia followed last Friday with a 3-0 win over St. Paris Graham, then beat Jackson Center 3-2 on Tuesday before earning its sixth consecutive win by beating Fairlawn 25-16, 25-15, 25-10 on Thursday.
Sherman passed 1,000 career kills in Tuesday’s win over the Tigers. Sherman, who is 6-foot-1, is a four-year starter and has had at least 214 kills each season.
“She’s very humble,” Russia coach Aaron Watkins said. “I think she’d take a win over getting her 1,000th kill. It’s nice; she’s very deserving of that. She works her butt off.”
Sherman had 11 kills and four aces in Thursday’s win over Fairlawn and has 1,026 career kills to her credit. She has an SCAL-best 204 kills to her credit this season and ranks second among league players with 26 total blocks.
“A lot of work has went into it,” Sherman said. “I couldn’t have done it with Miah (Monnin) or my teammates. Without the good passing and good setting, there’d be no chance at having 1,000.”
Monnin, a setter, is also a four-year starter and is the program’s all-time assists leader. She has 2,983 assists to her credit, 491 of which have come this season.
“I’ve had her all six years, and in JO season,” Sherman said. “We definitely have our connection down.”
Among the other seniors who play key roles are defensive specialist Jilian Chapman, outside hitter Cece Borchers, outside hitter Kelby Doseck and libero Simone Puthoff. Jenna York, Audrey Stickel and Lindsey Vastano play off the bench.
“In prior years, we’ve had to do a lot of team bonding, but we really haven’t had to do that because we’re so bonded already, after playing together for six years,” Sherman said. “These girls are my best friends.”
Chapman has team-high 198 digs while Monnin has 128. Borchers has 101 kills and a team-high 42 blocks. Doseck has 72 kills and 26 blocks. Puthoff has a team-high 30 aces.
Junior outside hitter Carley Scott has 149 kills, 163 digs and 23 aces. Junior middle hitter Roni Poling has 69 kills.
Watkins said the squad plays well together.
“A great thing with the seniors is five or six of them have played varsity for four years, so this is their fourth time doing this, and there’s a lot of confidence that comes with that,” Watkins said.
Sherman ranks second in all-time kills behind 2021 graduate Ashley Scott, who finished with 1,131. With six regular-season matches left and several tournament games likely, Sherman could finish as the program’s all-time leader.
She’s not worried about that — but is about an SCAL title and state berth.
Sherman, who also plays on the back row and ranks third on the team with 142 digs, said the squad knows what it’ll take to accomplish the goals.
“A lot of discipline and effort and hard work,” Sherman said.
Russia 1st in SCAL standings
The Raiders have a one-game lead over Fort Loramie (11-3, 7-1) in SCAL standings. The squads are scheduled to face off on Oct. 11 at Clair C. Naveau Gymnasium in what could be the defacto league title match.
Jackson Center (8-5, 5-3) is in third place while Anna (6-10, 3-5) and Fairlawn (7-7, 3-5) are tied for fourth. Botkins (7-9, 1-6) is in sixth and Houston (3-9, 0-7) is in seventh.
Sidney in driver’s seat in MVL Valley Division
The Yellow Jackets are on route to earn their first Miami Valley League Valley Division title since 2019.
Sidney (8-7, 8-4 MVL Valley) is in first place in the division and has a three-game lead second-place over Fairborn (9-7, 5-7).
The Yellow Jackets are scheduled to travel to Vandalia-Butler on Tuesday and to host Xenia on Wednesday. If victorious in both and if Fairborn loses at Troy on Tuesday, they will clinch a share of the divisional title.
Lehman 3rd, Riverside 5th in TRC
Lehman Catholic currently stands in third in Three Rivers Conference standings while Riverside is fifth.
The Cavaliers (8-7, 6-2 TRC) are behind Miami East (10-2, 8-0) and Covington (9-2, 7-1). Lehman lost to both 3-0 in the first round of league play. The squad started the second round of league play with a 3-1 win over Milton-Union on Thursday; they’re scheduled to travel to Miami East on Tuesday.
Riverside (4-11, 3-5) is in fifth place. The Pirates broke a five-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over Milton-Union on Tuesday; they won the fifth set 16-14 to earn the win.
State polls in 2nd week
The second Ohio High School State Volleyball Coaches Association polls were released earlier this week. As normal, many area teams are ranked.
Fort Loramie, despite having lost to Russia last Thursday, is ranked No. 6 in Division IV, one spot ahead of the Raiders. Russia is tied for seventh with Newark Catholic.
New Bremen was ranked No. 1 while Midwest Athletic Conference rival Marion Local was No. 2. The squads will likely swap spots after the Flyers won a MAC matchup between the two 3-1 on Tuesday.
Jackson Center is ranked No. 16 in D-IV.
Versailles (11-2, 4-1 MAC) is ranked No. 2 in Div. III.
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.