In any sport, the cream always rises to the top at the end of the year.
Over the course of the 2017 season, the Notre Dame Titans and the Wheelersburg Pirates volleyball programs did exactly that as Notre Dame moved up into 18th position in the final OHSVCA Division IV Poll, while Wheelersburg jumped to a tie for 17th in the OHSVCA Division III Poll en route to representing both SOC realms in the final state volleyball polls of the year.
Notre Dame, who grabbed 11 points to obtain its 18th place showing, finished the regular season at 17-5 and a perfect 14-0 in SOC I action after claiming victories over East (3-0), Wheelersburg (3-1), and New Boston (3-0) over three consecutive days last week. The Lady Titans won 52 of their 69 sets during the regular season, including an astonishing 42 of 43 stanzas against SOC I action (27 in a row) over the course of the year.
For the 2017 campaign, Lexi Smith has proven to be nothing less than a dominating force for Notre Dame as Smith’s 406 kills, .498 attack percentage, 64 aces, 81 total blocks (43 solo, 38 assisted), and 238 digs are all team highs.
The senior middle hitter, who is a Wheeling Jesuit University volleyball commit, also has 168 service receptions for the year. Clara Hash’s 161 kills, 167 digs, 127 service receptions, and 36 aces, along with Katie Dettwiller’s 158 kills, .373 attack percentage, and 45 total blocks round out a strong frontline. Cassie Schaefer’s 622 assists, 52 aces, 22 total blocks, and a 95.9 service percentage have helped set up the standout offensive attack.
On the backline, Ali Smith, who has just seven serving errors all year on 268 service attempts (97.4 percentage), has headed a gritty effort. Smith’s 216 digs, 132 service receptions, 54 assists, and 36 aces have also been outstanding numbers for the Lady Titans in 2017.
In addition to Smith, Taylor Schmidt (212 digs, 163 service receptions, 23 aces) and Alex Glockner (107 service receptions, 22 aces) have also been crucial for Notre Dame, who, as a No. 1 seed, will host Paint Valley on Thursday evening at 6 p.m. in a Division IV Sectional Final.
As for Wheelersburg, the Lady Pirates, who collected 12 points to finish in a tie for 17th place overall, finished 20-2 on the year and also collected an undefeated conference record with its 14-0 overall mark in SOC II play. Despite falling to the Lady Titans on Wednesday evening, Wheelersburg still obtained a positive week with victories over West and Valley last Tuesday and Thursday en route to winning 57 of the 68 sets that it played in 2017. The Lady Pirates won 44 of their 45 sets in SOC II action to round out the dominating year.
During the regular season, Alli McQuay and Mallory Bergan rounded out the dominating offensive performance by collecting 229 and 206 kills, respectively, for the 2017 season on .275 and .381 attack percentages. McQuay also collected 142 digs, 113 service receptions, 43 aces, and 21 solo blocks while Bergan obtained 202 service receptions, 170 digs, and 50 total blocks during the regular season. Adyson Rase (109 kills, .224 hitting percentage) has also provided a consistent output throughout the year.
From the backline, Ellie Ruby has led Wheelersburg all season long with her 446 digs, 341 service receptions, and 34 aces in 2017. Ruby, along with Mia Darnell (who has 133 digs, 26 aces), have only committed 27 errors combined all year en route to service percentages north of 95 percent. Abbie Kallner, who has collected an astonishing 516 assists on the year, has added 121 digs, 22 aces, and just six service errors on 247 service attempts for a stellar 97.6 service percentage en route to starring in all areas.
With a No. 1 seed in hand, the Lady Pirates will turn their attention to a Division III Sectional Final matchup between the winner of Coal Grove and Oak Hill on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7