Rockets achieving milestones, eyeing postseason run

Yaneek Smith

Behind a special group of seniors and a fantastic supporting cast, Oak Harbor volleyball finds itself in position to chase a Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division title and hopefully make a run in the postseason. 

The Rockets are currently 12-4 and 3-2 in the Bay Division and have some impressive victories on their resume, among them wins over Central Catholic, Edison and Fremont Ross.

The Rockets are led by Reagan Schultz, who currently holds four school records, and was the first player in school history to register 1,000 digs. Grace Wolf followed by eclipsing 1,000 digs in Oak Harbor’s win over Willard last week. Schultz broke the school record for career aces last season, a mark that was held by Olivia Rahm, who is now an assistant with the team, and Schultz also holds the record for digs in a season (394) and assists in a game (58).

“I love how this sport is team-driven and how everyone has to chip in to succeed,” said Schultz. 

Schultz is joined by five fellow seniors who have led the way for a team looking to make some noise. Those seniors are Wolf, Ryann and Riley Steinbrick, Breanna Bowlick and Jaycee Snyder. The rest of the roster includes Reese Adkins, Elise Mollison, Hayley Burhro, Emma Lynch, Megan Rife and Jaylin Underwood.

Bowlick, who coach Jackie Gezo counts as an unsung hero, leads the team with 226 digs, followed by Schultz (210) and Wolf (145). Wolf has 214 kills and Ryann Steinbrick has 135, and Steinbrick leads the team with 44 blocks.

“The team is all driven by passion,” Schultz said. “All the six seniors are really close, we do it for each other, we do it for the seniors and the rest of the team, and we push through. It’s our last year of ever playing volleyball. It’s all we have left, so let’s give it what we’ve got.”

She also credits Gezo for her efforts.

“Coach Gezo is very respectful, very fun to be around. She always pushes us to be our best,” Schultz said, “but also have fun while we’re doing it.”

The Rockets started the season with a bang, taking its first eight matches, but most recently had to defeat Willard, 3-2, to stop a three-game losing streak.

“We’re trying to build our confidence back up after the three losses last week,” said Gezo. “It was a turning point to get back into competition in the league and get back on track with winning.”

Oak Harbor has also defeated Genoa, Woodmore, Clyde, Mansfield Madison, Lakota, Rossford, Toledo Christian and Port Clinton.

Gezo holds a career record of 109-51 (.681) in her seventh season and reached 100 victories a few weeks ago. The program has reached new heights under her tenure — a district title, a league championship, an undefeated regular season, three sectional titles and some marquee victories over Huron, one of the top programs in the state. 

The pinnacle came in 2017 and ’18 — in ’17, the Rockets won the Bay Division and their first 24 matches before falling to Central Catholic in the Division II district finals, 3-1. But Oak Harbor got over the hump the next year, dominating their district and advancing to the regional semifinals before losing to Parma Heights Holy Name, 3-0, which advanced to win the state championship.

“That was the first team since ’89 to reach regionals,” said Gezo.

The Rockets won their first sectional title in 21 years in ’16.

A 1983 Oak Harbor graduate, Gezo has coached within the program for 16 years — ranging from the JV coach to the freshman coach and coaching both grades in the junior high — before taking the varsity job. She credits her players from the Class of 2018, which consisted of Peyton Bloomer, Logan Harris, Kaytlynn Sandwisch, Alayna Hetrick and Jill Thorbahn, who she led as the eighth grade coach in ’14, with talking her into taking over for Megan Maguire.

Gezo’s other assistant coaches are her daughter, Abbie, the JV coach, and Sandwisch.

“I know they want to do better in the tournament,” said Sandwisch. “Some of the seniors got to play in the regional semifinal game when I was a senior, and they have the desire and drive to win. It’s now or never.”




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