Eastwood volleyball coach Jeff Beck said he has the team, led by a trio of seniors, has the ability to win a fourth straight conference championship and make a deep tournament run this season.
“This is our best chance out of the last three years to get to regionals,” said Beck, whose team reached the Division II district semifinals last fall.
The Eagles won the last two Suburban Lakes League titles – they shared the title with Otsego in 2009 – and raced through the inaugural season of the Northern Buckeye Conference last year. They finished 22-3 and went 14-0 in the conference without dropping a single game against an NBC opponent in 2011.
Eastwood is off to a hot start this season, winning its first five matches while earning wins over NBC foes Otsego, Lake and Rossford. The Eagles, who have six returning starters, had yet to lose a game (15-0) heading into Thursday’s match against visiting Fostoria.
Their three returning seniors, outside hitter Brooke Salazar, middle hitter Allison Sutton and libero Aricka LaVoy, are also team captains.
Salazar returns after earning first-team all-conference and All-District 7 honors last season.
“We’re looking for Brooke to become more of a vocal leader as a senior,” Beck said. “She has the skills. We want her to demand the ball more and more verbally talk to her team and lift them up and be more of a voice on the floor.”
The 5-foot-10 Sutton, an honorable mention All-NBC pick last year, leads Eastwood in kills with 51.
“We’re looking for Allison to stay the course and stay consistent and keep doing what she’s doing,” Beck said. “We’re doing very well with her offense.”
LaVoy earned first-team all-conference and All-District 7 honors last season and leads the Eagles with 96 digs.
“I label her one of the best liberos in northwest Ohio,” Beck said. “In rough spots in a match, if we didn’t have her we wouldn’t win games. She finds every ball and gets it exactly where it needs to go. She’s the fastest libero I’ve ever coached in 16 years.”
Eastwood’s other returning starters are 5-10 junior outside hitter Elise Wolff, junior middle hitter Cassidy Rolf, junior right side hitter Sarah Klink and sophomore setter Jacki Juergens. Wolff, a second-team All-NBC pick, has a team-high 21 aces.
“We’re looking for her to continue to be aggressive,” Beck said. “She’s one of our most aggressive swingers, but we want her to be more consistent. She has improved tons since last year, which we’re excited about.”
Rolf is the younger sister of last year’s NBC Player of the Year, Courtney Rolf, who is now playing at the University of Findlay.
“Cassidy is probably just as strong as Courtney,” Beck said, “but Courtney was 6-0 and Cassidy is 5-7. She’s a smart middle and knows what to do with her 5-7 frame in the middle. She was a defensive specialist last year. She’s played middle before, as a younger kid, so it wasn’t foreign to her. She has a good vertical and she’s doing a good job.”
Juergens, a first-team all-conference and All-District 7 performer, led the Eagles with 146 assists through five matches.
“She’s taking over as the general and running the offense,” Beck said. “She’s looking at those girls and telling them everything they’re hitting. She’s the quarterback, the point guard.”
Freshman Mackenzie Albright is settling in as Eastwood’s defensive specialist.
Beck said this year’s team realizes it will get every opponent’s best effort.
“We have a huge target on our back because of last year,” he said. “We are starting to, every match, understand it doesn’t matter who we play, we are always going to get our opponents’ best because we have a target on our backs. The girls take it game by game. They don’t ever look too far ahead. They are really focused on keeping the tradition of winning the league going.”