Injuries, inexperience and an extremely difficult schedule have conspired against Brunswick’s volleyball team this season.
Coach Mande Pyzik, however, remains confident the Blue Devils can make a run at a second straight Midview Division I District championship.
“We’re inching closer and closer each game to becoming the team that we can be,” said Pyzik, whose 111 career wins rank seventh in Medina County history. “We’ve been right there in every match, but when we get to the close points, something just hasn’t clicked and the errors have started coming.
“That was why we had to win (Monday at Berea-Midpark) when things got tight. The girls pulled through and showed what they were made of.”
By grinding out a 25-14, 24-26, 26-24, 25-17 win over the Titans, Brunswick snapped its longest losing streak since 2005-06 at eight matches. The Blue Devils carried a 3-11 record into their Tuesday match at Valley Forge.
Not surprisingly, sophomore outside hitter Gina Yurik, senior setter Megan Anderson, senior libero Allison Evans and sophomore defensive specialist Jordan Verbiak set the tone and led the way.
All four were starters on Brunswick’s 2012 squad that advanced to regionals, but have upped their games this fall and become the core of the squad.
“Gina has become the closest thing we have to a go-to hitter and is always consistent defensively,” Pyzik said of the team’s kill leader. “With her, Allison, and Jordan, our serve reception is near perfection.”
Anderson has one of the most diverse skill sets in the county, logging double-digit totals in kills, assists, digs and service points on most nights. The co-captain also is a superb blocker for her position and routinely leads the squad in aces.
“That’s why we had to go back to running a 6-2 with Megan and Erika (Overton),” Pyzik said. “We couldn’t afford not to have Megan out there at all six positions. She’s been an incredible leader from the start of last offseason and we need her to keep things together.”
Chemistry will be key the rest of the way as the Blue Devils have used a county-high 16 players because of injuries and up-and-down production by its stellar sophomore class. They have already played eight teams with legitimate regional aspirations, but finally have reached the point of their schedule where they can get on a roll.
“My only goal is being ready for the tournament,” Pyzik said. “I’ve won three (Northeast Ohio Conference River Division titles) and they didn’t feel anywhere near as good as winning districts last year. I want to have that feeling again. That’s what is driving all of us right now.”
Senior outside hitter Makayla Koerner continues to give the Pirates a secondary threat to junior middle hitter Danielle Jenkins. Koerner ripped a career-high 17 kills in a five-game match against Columbia, equaling Jenkins’ total in the contest.
• Black River entered Tuesday 5-2 at home this season, making it 13-7 since coach Courtney Dieter returned to the helm in 2012.
The Bucks entered Tuesday 1½ games behind Keystone in the Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division with eight matches left. Buckeye plays at Keystone in its league finale on Oct. 10.
• All-Gazette sophomore setter Katie Galaszewski entered Tuesday averaging 13.3 kills, 16.3 assists and 10.0 digs over the last three matches.
Senior outside hitter Kaylee Gutschow had led the Colts in kills in two straight matches prior to Tuesday. She also is responsible for nicknaming coach Jim Vaughn the “Physics Master.” Vaughn has long been a popular science teacher at the school.
• The Colts began the week tied for fifth place in the Suburban League, which would equal their highest finish in the conference since 2009.
• Cloverleaf will host Highland in its annual Volley for the Cure match Tuesday. The event begins at 5:30 p.m.
Entering the week, junior setter Nikki Tecco averaged 7.2 assists per game in the Hornets’ last two matches, both of which were SL sweeps. Junior middle hitter Mallory Adams, Tecco’s top threat, had 26 kills in those contests.
• Highland will play at Tallmadge tonight, not Thursday, per the request of the Blue Devils. The Hornets entered Tuesday with a three-match winning streak.
The Bees are on their way to winning a second mythical county championship in three years, having knocked off Wadsworth, Brunswick, and Buckeye. Medina hosts the Blue Devils on Thursday, but could face the Grizzlies again in the postseason for the prize.
• Senior middle hitter Leah Svoboda, a superb leaper, is being recruited by Capital University to play volleyball and compete in the high jump in track.
Sophomore outside hitter Jodi Johnson had amassed 54 kills over her last 12 games prior to Tuesday, leading the Grizzlies to four straight sweeps. Senior middle hitter Ciera Koons had 24 blocks in that span.
• After beating undefeated Revere in three last week, Wadsworth rocketed into the Ohio High School Volleyball Coaches Association Division I state poll at No. 11. Two of the three teams to beat the Grizzlies are ranked above them in Strongsville (No. 8) and Amherst Steele (No. 9).
Contact Brian Dulik at email@example.com.