East met West for some volleyball action at its best Sunday, Nov. 15 at Tuscarawas Central Catholic High School in New Philadelphia, and West had a grand old time picking apart the East in a four-game showcase of some of the best talent in District 5.
The event was the 2015 District 5 Volleyball Coaches Association McDonalds All-Star Match, and while the talented seniors were all very competitive in playing in what was for most the final game of the year, there was also plenty of fun as these long-time rivals got a chance to play with each other instead of against one another for a change.
For the coaches, which included Carla Pry of New Philadelphia and Karli Townsend of Malvern for the West, and Debbie Swihart of Garaway and Shelly Crowe of Sandy Valley for the East, the chance to guide this kind of talent all on one team was not ass easy as rolling out a ball and letting them have at it.
“This is exciting and fun, but it is difficult to get them to communicate when they haven’t played at all together,” said Townsend. “That said, Townsend said of having so many gifted players under her tutelage, “It would without a doubt be a lot of fun to have this kind of talent playing for me all year. “We saw some incredible volleyball, and this gives all of them one more chance to play the game they love playing.”
The West, which boasted a much taller team, took full advantage of that, and took all four contests on the evening, winning 25-18, 25-22, 25-21 and finally a 25-8 blowout in the final game.
The East team included Caitlyn Clarke, Marlena Henry and Aleena Robinson of Claymont, Garaway’s Abby Detweiler and Cassidy Widder, Bethany Davis of Indian Creek, Kalree Peach of Newcomerstown, Sandy Valley’s Tyler Kerchner and Alyssa Sickafoose, Steubenville Catholic Central’s Anne Fischer and Josey Jones and Miranda Robinson of Toronto.
The West had a trio of District 5 Players of the Year including Div. II POY in West Holmes’ Cara Park, who was joined by her teammate Raichelle Erman, Div. III POY Laura Crawford, who was joined by her teammate Morgan McDorman, and Div. IV POY Sara Loomis, who was joined by her teammate Morgan Oldack. Other West participants included Carrollton’s Ali Poole and Roz Pridemore, Coshocton’s Lauren Hice, and the New Philadelphia trio of Taryn Davis, Abby Hammary and Leah Velleca.
The chance to play in the showcase was a fun one for all of the participants.
Garaway senior Abby Detweiler said getting the opportunity to play with her fellow senior standouts was an incredible experience, one that she had looked forward to for some time.
“Just being out here with all of these girls, who are so good and so talented, is a real honor,” said Detweiler.
Her teammate, Cassidy Widder, said playing meant a lot to her since she is not planning on playing at the collegiate level.
“This is an awesome opportunity for me to end my career with something special,” said Widder. “Wow, a lot of these girls are incredibly gifted players. God has definitely given them a lot of talent, and it is awesome to play with people like that.”
Park said getting to meet a lot of new people and having fun was part of the joy of the evening, but she added that because of their competitive nature, they all wanted to do well and win.
Park, who ended her career as the OHSAA’s third-all-time assist leader, will attend Akron University next year to continue her game, said of playing with so many big hitters, “You didn’t have to worry about who you were setting it to because everyone here can hit it.”
Crawford, who will move on to the University of Northern Kentucky next year, said it has been an exciting year, full of accomplishments, but she is looking forward to playing at a much higher level next season.
“Communication during things like this are always tough, but it was fun to come together and play well and win four games,” said Crawford. “But a lot of this is the social of it.”
For Loomis, volleyball is actually a secondary sport, despite her dominance in the sport. At 6-foot, 2-inches, Loomis will have little time to rest as she prepares to move into her big-time sport, basketball. The Hornet is an accomplished player both inside and outside, and can handle the ball like a guard or post up smaller players.
She said with the Hornets having some huge expectations this season, she is already looking forward to the hoops campaign.
“This was a lot of fun tonight, and it was neat to hang around with a lot of talented girls who can play this game,” said Loomis. “But I can’t wait to get started with basketball. That is what I really love doing.”
In addition to the seniors, District 5 honored all of its first, second and third-team award winners in between contests.
That included a pair of underclassmen stars from Tusky Valley, a team that went to state this season with no seniors on the roster. Tusky Valley gave St. Henry, Div .III’s top-ranked and undefeated team, a run for its money before losing in four games in the state semifinal in Dayton.
After receiving their first-team honors, Lady Trojans:
“I think people didn’t think we would be as good as we were,” said Kierrah Stewart, referring to the loss of three key players who went to TCC. “But that just made us work that much harder.
She said the team’s experience at state was a positive one, but their expectations going into next season will be that much higher having qualified for state.
“We want to win it all next year, “she said.
Teammate Kayla Hall, who wields a wicked-strong arm when it comes to delivering brutal kills, agreed with Stewart in that the team seemed more determined than ever to go even further next year.
“St. Henry was really good, and even though we didn’t win, it was a good experience for all of us,” said Hall. “We get along so well. We are all excited about next year already because it is the same team coming back. We really don’t have an offseason. We do a bunch of camps.”
Whether it was on the floor or being honored for their achievements, the evening proved to be a special one full of celebration for everyone involved.