Although Beatrice Hannan is only 5-foot-7, her leaping ability allows her to put up an effective block against taller opponents.
Unfortunately for the Dublin Coffman High School girls volleyball team, Hannan wasn't at full strength when the Shamrocks played Massillon Jackson in a Division I regional semifinal Nov. 1 at Hilliard Davidson.
With Hannan unable to perform at her usual standard because of the effects of a high ankle sprain, the Shamrocks had a hard time defending Jackson's top hitters -- especially 6-1 middle hitter and Miami University recruit Paige Hill -- and lost 25-20, 25-20, 25-22.
Jackson went on to defeat Pickerington North 21-25, 25-14, 20-25, 25-20, 15-8 in the regional final. Coffman finished 22-4 overall.
"Massillon Jackson has a smart, quick setter and a great middle hitter who can hit anywhere on the floor anytime she wants to, and we had a hard time blocking (Hill)," Coffman coach Mary Anne Souder said. "They had a lot of solid players to back her up, but their middle made a big difference because she's a smart hitter who can really avoid the block. Beatrice is the one player we have who can match up with a big middle like her, but she had missed our last two matches with a high ankle sprain, and she really wasn't at full strength when she did return.
"I don't want to make excuses, but Massillon Jackson is a great team and you have to be at full strength to beat them."
It was another strong season for the Shamrocks. They went 4-0 to win the Cincinnati Mother of Mercy Fall Classic, which was held Sept. 22 and 23, and captured their sixth consecutive OCC-Central Division title at 14-0.
Rounding out the league standings were Olentangy Liberty (12-2), Davidson (10-4), Thomas Worthington (8-6), Upper Arlington (6-8), Marysville (3-11), Westland (2-12) and Central Crossing (1-13).
The top-seeded Shamrocks opened the district tournament Oct. 17 at home with a 25-12, 25-14, 25-18 victory over Groveport.
Despite not having Hannan in the lineup, Coffman beat 12th-seeded Mount Vernon 25-11, 25-5, 25-18 in a semifinal Oct. 24 at Big Walnut and defeated fifth-seeded Hilliard Bradley 23-25, 25-16, 25-16, 25-21 in a final Oct. 27 at Big Walnut to capture its sixth consecutive district championship.
"Winning the Cincinnati Fall Classic was a turning point for our team and we started to see that we were capable of accomplishing bigger dreams," Souder said. "We won our sixth straight OCC title this season and our sixth straight district title. These are not easy tasks, especially with the level of competition in central Ohio getting better each year. Every year we feel a little bit more expectation to not break the streak, so I am really proud of the girls for being able to win under all the pressure."
The Shamrocks lose three third-year starters in seniors McKenzie Bailey (outside hitter), Cassie Hausfeld (middle hitter/outside hitter) and Jenn Vargo (setter), as well as their starting libero in senior Megan Mills.
Hausfeld was the OCC-Central Player of the Year and first-team all-district.
Bailey was first-team all-district, Vargo was second-team all-district and both were first-team all-league.
Mills was special mention all-league.
Hannan, a third-year starter who was honorable mention all-district and second-team all-league, is expected to be the top returnee. Other players expected back are juniors Kacey Barrett (opposite hitter), Gabby Goodson (opposite hitter) and Kelsey Kiley (defensive specialist), sophomores Mahlia Blair (middle hitter), Sydney Eiselt (defensive specialist), Megan Flaherty (defensive specialist), Brooke Norman (defensive specialist) and Becca Sabol (outside hitter) and freshmen Zoe Birnbrich (middle hitter) and Alli Sabol (opposite hitter).
Blair was honorable mention all-league.
"We were so deep this year and everyone got to play a lot," Souder said. "All six of our seniors did a great job and led our team in different ways. But we will be just as strong or maybe even stronger next year, depending on how these kids improve in the offseason."