Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University and pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeye baseball team from 1971 through 1974.  He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league league umpire for seven years, working in the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA).  He has written for numerous websites and outdoor publications, and for the past ten years has served as a regular columnist and photo editor for Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press.  Widely knowledgeable on that period of American History, Fulks is a frequent speaker on the Civil War at local roundtables throughout the Midwest. He and wife Mindy have two grown children and live in Covington, Ohio.

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They hadn’t lost as much as a set all year…until they met Versailles.  Tuscarawas Valley falls in four sets to the Tigers in the Division III semi-finals.

Fairborn – Kenzie Bruggeman is delighted to get another shot at Coldwater, especially with a state championship at stake.

But the way in which her 23-6 Versailles Tigers earned that opportunity put an even broader smile on her face Friday afternoon at the Nutter Center.

They got there by defeating Tuscarawas Valley, 25-17, 25-22, 22-25, and 25-21, a team that had not as much as lost a single set all year…not once in 28 previous matches had anyone drawn blood against the Trojans.

But Versailles came out aggresssive, taking the first two sets, and the shock of losing cast a pall on the prospect of the TV for the remainder of the match.  They came back to take the third, but the Tigers were simply too much…at the net, at the backcourt, and with their overall athleticism.  Tuscarawas simply could not get the shots to fall that had fallen all season- thanks in part of libero Kami McEldowney the Tiger defense.

“We made way too many mistakes to beat a good team like them,”  said TV coach Cortney Goodwin.  “They were tall at the net, they came out more aggressive than we did, and we just didn’t play up to our potential.  It’s unfortunate for our seniors because I know they had looked forward to winning a state championship since they third graders.  But it just didn’t happen.”

Comparing the schedules of the respective teams,  Bruggeman considered the competition from the MAC Conference a big advantage in preparing them for a team like Tuscarawas.

Kami  McEldowney and the Versailles defense frustrated Tuscarawas, saving shots that had previously fallen during the season.

“They’re a great team, and hats off to a team that can do what they’ve done this year,”  said Bruggeman.  “But playing our league against Coldwater and New Bremen (Versailles lost to both) is a tremendous challenge that prepares us for games like this.”

And the fact of spreading the wealth was another advantage for the Finals-bound Tigers.  Three players finished in double figures in kills (Elizabeth Ording (16), Danielle Winner (15), and Mallory Marshal (11).  Ellen Peters had a tremendous game in facilitating her hitters, finishing with an impressive 39 assists.

“They can all score and it makes us that much better to spread it around,”  said Peters.

Versailles will now face league rival Coldwater in tomorrow’s Division III final, having previously lost to Coldwater in four sets in the final week of the regular season.

“It’s a very exciting opportunity,”  said Bruggeman.  “I have so much respect for Nikki Etzler and Coldwater, and it says a lot about our league that we have three teams in the Finals.

Lindsey Winner registers a kill against the Tuscarawas defense. TV had not lot as much as a set previous to Saturday’s semi-finals.

That’s the good news.  The bad news is…one two MAC teams can come home as state champions.

“Maybe we can do something about that,”  smiled Bruggeman.

Versailles will seek its second title in volleyball, having previously won in 2013.   They finished as runners-up in their only other Finals appearance, back in 2003.

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