“At the beginning of the year, we set two goals. We wanted to win the SOC and get as far as we did last year, which was the regionals,” Notre Dame Titans head volleyball coach Kelsey Glockner said.
The Titans checked off the first goal after one of the most important weeks in program history. Notre Dame (17-4, 13-1) beat East 3-0 Thursday to claim a share of the SOC I championship with the Eastern Eagles. Although the victory over the Tartans sealed the deal, the real championship match came Tuesday when the Titans traveled to Eastern and knocked off the Eagles 3-1.
“They’ve dominated for so long,” Glockner said. “They are a highly respectable program. It was a big game. When you face a program that has a history of winning like that, it’s always a big game.”
Eastern has won the league championship every year since 2006 with Notre Dame often placing second or third in the final standings.
“That has always been like a monkey on their backs,” Glockner said. “So this year, they really, really wanted to win the league. We have continued to work hard every week and they have never lost sight of that goal.”
After years of trying and falling just short of a championship, the Titans continued to chip away at the Eagles, formulating a gameplan to beat the perennial champs.
“The result was that they won and it was an awesome moment because all of their hard work paid off,” Glockner said.
As far as the second goal, Notre Dame is a No. 1 seed in Division IV and will face the winner of No. 8 Paint Valley-No. 9 Fairfield on Thursday. However, the Titans goals have evolved from just reaching the regional round, Glockner wants to continue building the program to sustain un-chartered success.
“That’s what we are here for,” Glockner said. “We all want to set a new standard and new expectations for the volleyball program. Our plan is to continue to continue to work with the junior-program and to start funneling through what Notre Dame volleyball is all about …
“The girls are just really excited for the new program. They’ve worked really hard and they work really hard on respecting their school and they have a lot of team respect, team discipline. They are all really on board. I look forward to that and with us winning the league this year, I think that’s going to make it more exciting … “
As far as 2015 is concerned, the Titans were led by a young roster, highlighted on the offensive end by Lexie Smith.
“She has just done a great job of wanting the ball, being ready for the ball, knowing the gameplan, staying positive with the other girls and she’s very humble,” Glockner said. “She’s just been a great offensive leader.”
One of only two seniors on the team, Reagan Kayser has been effective on the offensive and defensive end, but her leadership qualities might overshadow her abilities on the court.
“Her leadership on the court as been awesome,” Glockner said.
Junior Hagen Schaffer as transitioned into the team’s setter, which is a position she has never played in her career.
“She’s done a fantastic job learning how to set at the end of July, beginning of August,” Glockner said.
Emma Monroe has played a multidue of positions for the Titans and has been effective in many different roles.
“She’s an All-Around great player,” Glockner said. “She’s great offensively. We had to switch her to the middle this year and she’s done a great job with that. She’s also been a phenomenal server and defensive player.”
Sophomore Ally Smith made the transition from junior varsity to varsity this season.
“She plays Libero this year,” Glockner said. “She has continued to improve every week, defensively, reading the ball, getting the corners; she’s quick. She has really stepped up in that role.”
The last two major contributors are freshman, Katie Dettwiller and Clara Hash. Dettwiller rotates in and plays the front line for the Titans.
“Katie comes in and plays the front row for us,” Glockner said. “She blocks and she has just really come along for us in understanding the game and how to play defense. She’s gotten some major blocks for us and crucial kills for us. She has really come a long way, coming from eighth-grade volleyball to this level of play.”
Hash is an All-Around player who has improved every week.
“Clara plays all the way around,” Glockner said. “She is the most improved probably on defense. She really had to learn the game and she’s improved every week. She’s really come into her own in understanding the game.”
Both freshman have been an integral part of the team this season.
“I’m just so proud of both of those freshman, coming from an eighth-grade level and they stepped up to this level of play and increase of tempo. It’s been awesome.”
Reach Chris Slone at 740-353-3101, ext 1930, or on Twitter @crslone.