DeSales Roundup: Girls volleyball team seeks title repeat
The DeSales girls volleyball team began defense of its Division I state championship Aug. 27 with a 25-20, 25-15, 18-25, 25-19 home win over Olentangy Liberty, but that approach doesn't accurately reflect how the Stallions view the season.
Instead of defending the title, the Stallions' mantra is "attacking the title."
"When people say 'defend the title,' to me it sounds kind of like we're back on our heels and not ready," senior libero Bridget Javitch said. "When we say 'attacking the title,' our mindset kind of changes to running the offense with the same mentality, eagerness and hunger we had last year to win it all again."
Javitch is one of several returnees, joining classmates Avery Boyd (middle blocker), Brooke Stablein (defensive specialist) and Saje Washington (outside hitter) and juniors Gabby D'Amico (defensive specialist/outside hitter) and Morgan Tydings (middle hitter/outside blocker). Last year's team went 27-2 overall and defeated Parma Padua -- the top-ranked team in the country according to USA Today -- 19-25, 25-21, 25-20, 25-22 to win the program's first state title since 1982.
Washington had 179 kills last season and likely will play an even larger role in the offense with the graduations of outside hitters Maryanne Boyle and Emma Brown, who now play for Providence and Robert Morris, respectively.
Stablein had 118 digs, Boyd had 117 blocks and Tydings had 109 kills and 67 blocks last year.
Boyd is a Fairfield commit. Javitch is an American University commit.
"We definitely graduated some great seniors, not just in terms of play but of leadership. All five of them really left their mark," fourth-year coach Brenden Pence said. "We still have some players who made huge impacts. We're still reloading. We won't rest on our laurels, but we'll have a sense of urgency. Our biggest issue is continuing to understand there are different mechanics, different tendencies with a slightly different roster."
Other hitters are seniors Alexis Johnson, Tara Mnich and Allison Weiner, sophomore McKenzie Hall and freshman Kerrigan Habing. Habing, Johnson, Mnich and Weiner also are defensive specialists.
"All our pin hitters are versatile," Pence said. "Saje can go on the outside and the right side and run a lot of different sets. She's taken a real leadership role this year. She leads through her actions and through being the one who wants to get to work and put the rubber to the road, so to speak."
Juniors Judy Stanczewski and Ashleigh Zehala are the team's setters, succeeding Bella D'Amico, last year's ThisWeek girls volleyball Athlete of the Year who now plays at Georgia Tech.
Rounding out the roster are juniors Claire Baileys (defensive specialist) and Arianna Hervey (middle blocker).
DeSales begins CCL play Sept. 10 at home against Ready.
The Stallions went 5-1 in the league last year to finish first, ahead of Watterson (4-2). Their loss to Hartley in the final CCL match for both teams preceded a 15-match winning streak to end the season.
Pence said rather than the "three 'C's" -- composed, confident and consistent -- that the team emphasized last year, this season they are concentrating on "the three 'P's" -- purpose, patience and persistence.
"We want to perfect the little things," Mnich said. "We'll continue getting better as we keep playing. We have a target on our backs now. We're using that as motivation."
At a glance
*Coach: Brenden Pence, fourth season
*Top players: Avery Boyd, Gabby D'Amico, Bridget Javitch, Morgan Tydings and Saje Washington
*Key losses: Maryanne Boyle, Emma Brown and Bella D'Amico
*Last season: 27-2 overall
*2019 CCL standings: DeSales (5-1), Watterson (4-2), Hartley (3-3), Ready (0-6)
*2019 postseason: Defeated Licking Heights 25-7, 25-5, 25-5; def. Hilliard Darby 25-14, 25-13, 25-8; def. Hartley 25-13, 25-20, 25-17; def. Watterson 25-15, 17-25, 25-12, 25-14; def. Olentangy Orange 27-25, 25-16, 26-28, 25-22; def. Solon 25-10, 25-18, 25-21; def. Parma Padua 19-25, 25-21, 25-20, 25-22 in Division I state final