Greg Billing
Greg Billing

Greg Billing began covering high school, college and professional sports in the Miami Valley in 1988 when he was a junior at Miami East High School. The Wright State University graduate has worked at the Troy Daily News (1996-1997), Springfield News-Sun (1997-2001) and the Dayton Daily News (2001-2016). He was inducted into the Dayton Auto Racing Fan Club's (DARF) Hall of Fame in 2015 for his auto racing coverage and has also earned numerous Associated Press awards for stories, headline writing and special sports sections. Greg lives in West Milton with his wife and two daughters. When not covering events, he and his wife are cheering for the girls as they play a variety of sports for the Milton-Union Bulldogs.

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St. Henry’s triple-threat attack — and then some — netted a Cavalier Spikeoff volleyball championship over another standout field at Coldwater on Saturday.

Coldwater – Some teams prefer to ease into a season. Keep the schedule light the first week. Play smaller schools to gain some experience.

And then there’s St. Henry. The Redskins attacked their season opener like senior Addy Vaughn chasing a teammate’s misdirected dig – going all out and diving head first into the third row of the bleachers.

Both St. Henry and Vaughn were successful in their efforts.

Behind the play of the Vaughn triplets, among others, St. Henry outlasted an eight-team, all-Ohio field Saturday at the 11th annual Totally Promotional Cavalier Spikeoff. St. Henry knocked off Miami East, Fort Loramie and defending champion Ottawa-Glandorf for its third Spikeoff title (2009, 2015).

“You really get to see where you’re at compared to some of the top teams in the state,” St. Henry coach Tricia Rosenbeck said of starting the season with the Spikeoff gauntlet. “I’m happy with how we’re competing and pulling together as a team.”

Fort Loramie’s McKenzie Hoelscher delivers a kill past St. Henry defenders
Brianna Siefring (left) and Carley Winner.

Fort Loramie coach John Rodgers left Coldwater High School encouraged by his team’s third-place victory, capped by a two-set victory over the hosts (25-22, 25-22). His Redskins knocked off defending Division III state champion Versailles in two sets (25-15, 25-15) before falling to St. Henry in two (19-25, 23-25).

The format can prove as challenging as much as the teams participating. One-hour breaks are sometimes the norm in the fast-paced action, leaving little time for adjustments or a chance to decompress.

“That’s something the girls are not used to,” Rodgers said following the loss to St. Henry. “That’s not an excuse for anything. We’re learning. In the first match (against Versailles) things are going our way. In the second match things aren’t going our way. That’s part of the game.”

Saturday’s field included one state champion (Versailles), two regional semifinalists (Fort Loramie, Miami East), two district finalists (O-G, St. Henry) and a sectional finalist (Coldwater). St. Marys and New Knoxville and St. Marys Memorial also competed.

The field is capable of duplicating or surpassing last season’s achievements, especially the Redskins. St. Henry lost in the D-III district final to New Bremen in five grueling sets. Four of the five sets were determined by five points or less, including New Bremen’s 15-13 win that helped the Cardinals continue their run to the D-IV state title match.

St. Henry knows that could have been them.

“We’re very confident this is our year to do something big,” Rosenbeck said. “I think our senior leadership, they feel the same way. This is their shot and they’re going to make the most of it.”

St. Henry’s Mia Niekamp finishes off the Redskins victory over Fort Loramie despite McKenzie Hoelscher’s best efforts.

The Vaughn sisters – seniors Addy, Marlee and Nora – provide a triplet threat for opponents. Addy, a four-year setter, led the team with 65 assists in the three matches. Nora, a hard-hitting middle front row player for three years, led the team with 25 kills and added 19 service points and 25 digs. Marlee, the defensive leader at libero, led with both 40 digs and 26 service points.

“You have all three of them leading in different ways,” Rosenbeck said.

St. Henry isn’t all Vaughn, though. Junior outside hitter Hannah Bruns contributed solid play at the net with 22 kills and 25 digs. Senior defensive specialist Kaylee Lange (17 digs, 13 points) and sophomore Brianna Siefring added quality depth.

“(Addy, Marlee, Nora and Hannah) being out there all the time is very good for us. They’re leading those underclassmen to raise their game to the level we need it to be,” Rosenbeck said. “We have a lot of different options. All of our hitters on the front row are able to get kills. Every single one of them is able to swing and get a kill.”

Addy Vaughn played a key role in St. Henry bumping, setting and spiking the field at the 11th annual Totally Promotional Cavalier Spikeoff.

As for Fort Loramie, Rodgers expects his team to bounce back behind the senior leadership of Alyssa Wrasman, Marisa Meiring, Taylor Raterman and Macy Imwalle. That they put the St. Henry loss behind them to end with a victory over Coldwater was a good sign.

“One of the things I stress with my girls is no matter what’s going on you have to give me 100 percent on the court,” Rodgers said. “From there I can see what needs to be addressed. I think that’s what the St. Henry match did for us. Our effort was never in question. They exposed a few things. Now I can go back and watch the film and fix those things in practice. That’s kind of the beauty of a match like that.

“They know they did not play well. I didn’t have to tell them that. They realize we are good enough to play with them. We are good enough to beat a team like that. We just have to be better here, here and here. … You don’t want a loss, but at the same time I learned a ton in that match about my team. That’s always a positive for me.”

As is the Totally Promotional Cavalier Spikeoff.

Net gains … St. Henry’s Hannah Bruns goes for the block against Fort Loramie’s McKenzie Hoelscher.

Bruckens neighborhood pub, in Fort Loramie, is a proud supporter of Shelby County League sports on Press Pros.

 

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