The Lima area produced several powerhouse high school volleyball teams in 2017.
Midwest Athletic Conference co-champs New Bremen and Coldwater reached the state finals with the Cardinals winning the Division IV championship and the Cavaliers falling to fellow MAC member Versailles in D-III.
Ottawa-Glandorf (Western Buckeye League), Ada (Northwest Conference), Ottoville (Putnam County League) and Hardin Northern (Northwest Central Conference) each went unbeaten in conference play. Leipsic finished second in the PCL and Blanchard Valley Conference. Celina (D-II), Ada (D-IV) and Jackson Center (D-IV) won district crowns.
Here is a look at the 2018 season by conference.
Western Buckeye League
Defending champion O-G has five letter winners back including juniors Taylor Alt (all-WBL third team, 278 kills, 30 aces in 2017) and Eric Annesser (all-league honorable mention, 178 kills, 25 aces).
“This young team will be working hard to define their roles on the team,” coach Ann Ellerbrock said. “They are working hard to improve daily, played at a high level this summer and look to continue to be very competitive this year.
League runner-up Shawnee returns 10 letter winners including all-WBL honorable mention selection junior Kelsey Fischbach (90 kills, 121 saves, 40 aces).
“We have very dedicated hard workers on our team,” coach Amy Knight said. “That is going to lead us into success this season.”
Third-place finisher Celina has five letter winners returning.
“This is a rebuilding year for us,” coach Amy Sutter said. “We’ve lost 12 starters in the last two seasons so we’ve got some key positions to fill and some valuable experience to gain. We’re pretty scrappy defensively so our ability to keep the ball in play will make us competitive. We will need to control the ball as much as possible to be able to feed our biggest hitters in the middle and on the right side.”
Fourth place St. Marys has four letter winners back including all-league honorable mention choice junior Aaleyiah Williams.
“With the foundation set by a handful of previous varsity players, they have so far set a platform for the younger classmen to step into,” coach Cierra Anderson said. “Being my first year as head coach for the St. Marys Roughriders, the girls have transitioned extremely well with how things have been ran. We’ve been working on critiquing some fundamentals and bringing in some more position training. One of our key goals is to limit unforced errors. The girls have worked hard throughout preseason and I think they are just as ready as I am to get the season started.”
Wapakoneta, which was sixth in the final standings last season, has five letter winners back.
“After losing six seniors to graduation, this group is eager to step up and fill those positions,” coach Kim Selvey said. “There has been a lot of growth in each player and the team is coming together and working hard. We hope to continue to improve and get better each day and believe we will be competitive each and every game.”
Bath, which tied Van Wert for seventh place, has 10 letter winners back including third team all-league selection senior Caitlyn Renner (391 assists) and honorable mention pick senior Kali Armstrong (345 digs, 24 aces).
“We are looking to build on where we ended last year,” coach Ginger Stahr said. “We should defensively be able to compete with teams. We have worked really hard this summer to get stronger and quicker. I’m hoping their hard work pays off. They have great team chemistry, and the girls are willing to work hard to be a better team. We get better each day, and I’m looking forward to what they accomplish this season.”
Van Wert, which lost four players to graduation, has six letter winners returning including senior Adrianna Grothause (all-WBL third team, 352 digs).
“We have six girls back that received a lot of court experience last season,” coach Jeff Marbaugh said. “I think that will help us to get good start to the season. I believe we have a good group of players, and I think we are starting to get that hunger and passion to be a better team.”
Kenton will be hoping to improve after finishing in a tie for ninth with Elida.
Elida has six letter winners back.
“We are going to be young again this year but we have some great upperclassmen that are ready to lead,” Elida coach Traci Sneary said. “They are starting to play together and are getting better every day. When we talk and move we play really well. I think if we put all of the little things together we are going to be competitive.”
Defending champ Ada returns four letter winners including all-league honorable mention selection junior Sidney Gossard (222 assists, 145 digs, 55 aces).
“I have been coaching the seniors since they were in seventh grade so we have great team chemistry and a great group of student athletes,” coach Kyleigh Tabor said. “Our team will be successful this year if everyone is playing well and if we eliminate errors on our side of the court. We are focusing on our back row and defense and hope to beat teams defensively with losing the big hitters we had in the past.”
Second-place Crestview has four letter winners back, junior Lexi Gregory (all-NWC first team).
“Very pleased with what I’ve seen so far with this group of girls,” coach Tammy Gregory said. “They are working very hard and know what it takes to be successful. Our defense has been battling and getting most balls up to our setter for the aggressive attack. They work well together, love competing and are determined to achieve their set goals, but most importantly have fun doing it.”
Third-place Columbus Grove, which also finished third in the PCL, has four letter winners back including all-NWC honorable mention selections seniors Rylee Sybert (447 assists, 214 digs, 127 kills, 14 aces) and Haley Radabaugh (153 kills, 100 digs, 12 aces). Sybert joined senior Amy Vorst (325 digs) in receiving all-PCL honorable mention recognition.
“We have a strong returning team with potential to compete for league championships,” coach Adam Choi said. “We lost two all-state and three all-league seniors, but are returning a four year letterman setter (Sybert) poised to set a school career record for assists. Team chemistry has been good through summer and scrimmages. Upcoming players had a 20-2 JV season, including going undefeated in both PCL and NWC.”
Fourth-place Allen East has four letter winners returning, including senior Summer McCloskey, an all-NWC honorable mention selection in 2017.
“We graduated six seniors last season, all were starters, if no important parts of the team,” coach Laura Basham said. “We’ve had to learn to work together all over again, but I feel like the girls want to be successful, and they get along very well.”
Fifth-place Paulding has seven letter winners returning including all-NWC honorable mention picks senior Megan Tope and sophomore Sadie Estle.
“This team just gels together,” said Cheri Estle, who has returned after coaching the Panther from 1988-1999. “There is great senior leadership. They have worked hard in preseason, plus there is just a great deal of natural athleticism. We have some decent height, and I think we’ll be strong at the net, both hitting and blocking. Plus we are working hard on consistent serving.”
Sixth-place Lincolnview saw senior Lakin Brant received first team all-NWC honors in 2017.
Delphos Jefferson, which finished seventh last year, has a new coach in Jacklyn Smith.
“We have a ton of potential and the girls seem like they are really interested in learning,” Smith said. “I am excited for this team. and I believe that great things can happen, once we put all of the pieces of the puzzle together. We have a great plan for strength and conditioning and hope that these girls learn something about nutrition that can help them in their future.”
Eighth-place Bluffton has four letter winners returning, including second team all-NWC pick senior Katie Prater (95 kills, 89 blocks).
“Taking over the program after some time of absence, we will look to develop skills to make us competitive,” said coach Kevin King, who was on a two year leave. “With a re-focus on aggressive offense and defense we will strive to limit our errors. We have some young players that will need to fill key roles in making this team competitive. Our focus on strategy and fundamentals will prove to be our strength as our lack of experience will need to be overcome.”
Ninth-place Spencerville has six letter winners back, including all-NWC honorable mention selection senior Abby Satterfield (49 kills, 28 aces).
“The team is working hard to be better than last season,” coach Amy Hoback said. “Each day players focus on one way they can improve their game. If the girls continue to work hard and give 100 percent effort, they will see successes this season, individually and as a team.”
Putnam County League
Defending champ Ottoville returns three letter winners, including seniors Brynlee Hanneman (all-PCL second team) and Quinley Schlagbaum (all-PCL honorable mention).
Runner-up Leipsic, which also finished second in the Blanchard Valley Conference, has nine letter winners returning, including seniors Hayley Heitmeyer (second team all-state, first team all-PCL and all-BVC) and Carlee Siefker (second team all-BVC, all-PCL honorable mention). Senior Kacey Dulle received honorable mention all-NWCC recognition.
“With nine returning letter winner from a 20-win team, Leipsic has the potential for a strong season,” said Brent Newell, who needs 17 wins to pass Bob Moran for having the most wins in school history.
Fourth-place Continental has four letter winners back.
Kalida, fifth in 2017, has five seniors on its roster.
Sixth-place Pandora-Gilboa, which was also eighth in the BVC, has two letter winners returning, including all-BVC honorable mention selection senior Addilyn Diller.
“We are a young team with only two seniors for the year,” coach Ron Simons said. “We are very quick and read the ball well, so the outlook looks promising as the year goes on. All in all I think P-G volleyball will surprise some people through the year.”
Seventh-place Miller City returns seven letter winners including all-PCL honorable mention picks senior Kylie Berner (135 kills) and junior Sofie van Wezel (158 kills).
“We have a lot of experience coming back,” coach Kari Wenzinger said. “This group of girls play as a team, are versatile players, quick and work hard. We have players playing in new positions and new back row. We have a couple girls moving to positions they have never played before but they worked very hard in the offseason to become familiar with their new position. We hope to be competitive in the league and to have a winning season. We hope to have a strong defense and aggressive hitting.”
Midwest Athletic Conference
Those returning for co-champ New Bremen include seniors Rachel Kremer (all-state and all-MAC second team, 166 kills, 164 digs, 39 aces) and Blake Snider (all-MAC honorable mention, 225 digs).
“The MAC will be very solid this year,” coach Diana Kremer said. “The only thing harder than winning state, is doing it again. That is our goal.”
Co-champ Coldwater had junior Lauren Gilliland earn first team all-MAC honors.
St. Henry, which tied Fort Recovery for fourth place, has five letter winners back including all-MAC second team selections junior Addy Vaughn (363 assists, 172 digs, 153 kills, 20 aces) and senior Ashley Siefring (180 kills, 62 digs, 28 aces) and honorable mention pick senior Carleigh Deitsch (414 assists, 185 digs, 49 aces).
Fort Recovery had senior Cassidy Martin and junior Paige Jutte named to the all-MAC second team and senior Madison Rammel receive honorable mention recognition.
Sixth-place Marion Local has five letter winners back including seniors Carrie Fesenmeyer (first team all-MAC, second team all-state, 436 digs, 25 aces) Natalie Rethman (all-MAC honorable mention, 430 assists, 48 aces).
“We will have a great mix of upper and underclassmen on the court,” coach Erica Schulze said. “I am very excited about the potential of this group.”
Seventh-place New Knoxville returns six letter winners including second team all-MAC honoree senior Taylor Doty (254 kills, 252 digs) and honorable mention selection junior Carly Fledderjohann (648 assists).
“We have five returning starters from last season and a talented freshmen class joining the team,” Morgan Strayer said. “We are eager to start the season and have set specific goals we will be working towards throughout the next few months.”
Eighth-place Minster has two returning starters including honorable mention selection Danielle Barhorst (135 kills, 291 digs, 24 digs).
“Our biggest goal for this upcoming season is to enjoy the process,” coach Cami Garman said. “The girls understand that they have to push through every aspect of the process to get the end product that they strive for. Our motto this year is ‘we will get what we tolerate.’ We are focusing on team accountability and pushing each other to be the best that we can be.”
Ninth-place Delphos St. John’s has two returning starters and not a whole lot of varsity experience returning.
“My goal with these girls this season is to improve with each day and match and continue with a winning attitude and tradition,” coach Carolyn Dammeyer said. “We are very young but excited to see how we progress throughout the season playing in the toughest league in the state being in the MAC. These girls are excited and I feel ready for the challenges and are wanting to work hard.”
Parkway, which finished 10th in 2017, returns four letter winners.
“We have only one senior on the roster this season so we will start out the season with a little bit of inexperience,” coach Jordan Henkle said. “This has been a fun group to coach so far, a lot of new varsity players but we want to keep expectations high. We know if we can compete with MAC teams we can compete with anyone in the state.”
Northwest Central Conference
Defending champ Hardin Northern returns five letter winners, including all-NWCC first team member senior Rylie Bame and honorable mention selection senior Gabby Weaver.
Coach Dorothy Cory said its a rebuilding year with five starters from 2017 graduated.
She said the team is “working on positions and team chemistry.”
Waynesfield-Goshen, which finished fifth last season, has four letter winners returning, including all-conference honorable choice senior Cassidy Craig (81 digs, 74 kills, 14 aces).
“With only two returning starters, we are a very young team,” coach Kelly Searson said. “We graduated seven seniors, including five starters, so we will be filling positions with athletes who have limited varsity experience but great potential.”
Sixth-place Perry saw senior Kelsey Wells and junior Tia Barfield earn all-NWCC honorable mention selection.
Seventh place Ridgemont saw senior Cassidy Knapp receive all-NWCC second team recognition and senior Shaylee McGrath named all-NWCC honorable mention.
Eighth-place Upper Scioto Valley has six letter winners back.
Ninth-place Temple Christian has back four letter winners including all-NWCC honorable mention choice senior Sophie White (396 digs, 28 aces).
“After graduating six seniors, Temple’s team for 2018 will consist of four experience upperclassmen and five first year varsity underclassmen,” coach Tim Acklin said. “With inexperience in several positions we hope to improve throughout the season and better last year’s record.”
After going 10-12 in the regular, Lima Central Catholic went on to reach the D-IV district finals and finish the season 13-13. Five letter winners return for the Thunderbirds.
Coach Wes Hortman said LCC has a “solid group of returning letter winners but huge holes to fill. Players stepping into newer or larger roles will be key to success.”
Lima Senior coach Kendra Turner said “I am excited for this season as we have returned seven varsity lettermen. The girls have worked hard all summer on the ‘small stuff’ to become a better, more cohesive team.”
Among those back for the Spartans, who finished eighth in the Three River Athletic Conference, is all-TRAC honorable mention selection senior Taja Ogelsbee.
Cory-Rawson, which finished ninth in the BVC, had senior Amanda Green receive third team all-BVC recognition and junior Riley Garmatter make all-BVC honorable mention.
Shelby County League
Senior Raquel Kessler not only made the all-SCL first team but also was named Player of the Year and first team all-state for fourth-place Jackson Center. Senior Katelyn Sosby was on the second team and senior Caroline Frieders was honorable mention.
Botkins hopes to improve from its fifth place league finish.
Reach Mike Purdy at 567-242-0451.