Flyers built for the future, in championship hunt now

J. Patrick Eaken

        Lake volleyball has found itself in the middle of a Northern Buckeye Conference race, trying to keep pace with Otsego and Eastwood.
        Otsego (10-1) is 9-0 in the league, Lake follows at 13-3 and 8-1, and Eastwood has fallen to 11-5 and 6-3 entering league matches Thursday.
        This year, the Flyers have already defeated perennial league power Eastwood, but lost to Otsego. Both were five sets.
        What makes Lake’s girls look impressive on first sight is they have height, even their underclassmen.
        “It’s crazy,” fifth-year coach Amy Vorst said. “Our libero is 5-11, and I bet most outside hitters are not even 5-11. She’s been a defensive specialist for us for years and she’s been a libero for us the last two years. She grows every year. We have a 5-11 libero and our center is 5-11. We have two six-foot girls, and my daughter (freshman Ella Vorst) is 6-2. We’re pretty big for sure.”
        Senior outside hitter Kortney Ellison leads the team with 153 kills, sophomore middle blocker Cassidy Wiley has 133 and Ella Vorst has 103. In blocks, Ella Vorst leads the Flyers with 26 and Wiley has 25.
        When you watch the front line hitters win a point on a kill, it’s impressive to see the accuracy and power. They rarely miss.
        “We do a lot of reps in practice and we have an AcuSpike, and that holds the ball for us. The girls don’t have to worry about timing — they just work on shots. And, we get them going to center and we practice on hitting, we work on shots, we work on tips and rolls every day — that’s a big part of what we work on,” coach Vorst said.
        When the girls do miss, Vorst doesn’t get on them as long as they are going for the point.
        “My theory is nobody messes up on purpose, and if it’s an aggressive mistake I’m OK with aggressive mistakes,” Vorst said. “It’s the little ones where they hit into the net, or they miss a serve — those are the unforced errors that we have to eliminate. And, we talk about it a lot the next day and we try to go over the things that we need to fix.”
        Senior setter/defensive specialist Tatum Miller has 200 digs, Ellison has 165, and Wiley leads the team in aces with 62, followed by junior outside hitter/DS Taylor Asman (46).
        Coach Vorst has volleyball in her blood — before she married Rossford basketball coach and Kalida native Brian Vorst, she was Amy Rapelje, a member of the 1993 Eastwood team that finished 25-3 and won a Division III state volleyball championship under coach Kathy Loomis. Vorst played one year of volleyball at NCAA Division II Edinboro University in Pennsylvania, where she also played three years of basketball.
        Vorst would like to get the match with Otsego back, and she will when the two teams meet on Oct. 10 at Lake’s field house. She felt her team could have played better in the loss.
        “They were the other undefeated team in the league, so it was a super big match. Against Otsego, we didn't stick to our game plan,” Vorst said. “Otsego came to play, and we started off a little rough. They had tremendous crowd support and the players were dialed in, and I think that was the difference between us.”
Ten-game win streak
        After losing the season opener to Tiffin Calvert in four sets, the Flyers ripped off 10 straight wins, only losing six sets.
        “We’re pretty happy with how it’s going so far. I’m pretty impressed with how our girls are playing. We started our season pretty rough — our setter, Karly Bekier — she ended up with a concussion. She missed quite a few of our first matches, and we pulled our libero, Tatum Miller, who came into set for us.
        “Then we moved Phoebe Rayn, who is our first-year varsity player, to libero. Then, Ally Crofts, who is our six-foot right side (hitter), is still out because she fractured her ankle. So, we had a lot of trouble early but the younger kids stepped up. They’re playing pretty well, and it’s good that they got the experience they needed going into the season.”
        The 10-game streak ended with a five-set loss to Swanton.
        “It was anybody’s game. We were tied at 13 in the fifth and just made more mistakes than them. They’re pretty good. We were very equal and we had so many unforced errors, and that will do it,” Vorst said.
        One of the wins during that streak was the win over Eastwood in five sets.
        “It was super exciting, and I know Eastwood this year is very young as well,” Vorst said. “I know that they are playing a lot of young kids, but they are always good, they are always scrappy, they can play super well and they serve well. It went to five and it was definitely a battle.
        “We actually had a pretty good student section that time and Eastwood always has a good crowd. They have the same people who have been going to games for years, so they have that tradition that we’re trying to build.”
        Of course, Vorst and her players want to win a championship. However, the good news for Lake is, if they don’t win a championship this year, they are built for the future.
        “We’ve improved a little bit every year so it’s exciting. We’re definitely going to miss our seniors when they graduate, but the two freshmen who are on the team are doing a pretty good job and then our three sophomores on the team are filling their role and we have one junior who is playing her best so far. And, our eighth grade class is doing pretty well, too, so we’re excited for the incoming class of kids next year as well,” Vorst said.
        “I think the big thing is a lot of those younger kids are playing club volleyball, and it’s good to get them excited to do that stuff because if they are playing all year round, it’s obviously going to be better for us in the long run. And, we actually do have a pretty good biddy program — we have 60 to 100 kids sign up every year. So, we’re trying to get the little ones excited early and get them the skills they need to know for when they get to junior high so it’s not just brand new volleyball for them.”


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