Jeff Beck was dealt a hand he wasn't familiar with in 2009, but the first-year volleyball coach at Eastwood did anything but bluff his way to a Suburban Lakes League co-championship.
The Eagles, who had a much younger roster than when they finished 13-11 a year ago, pushed their record to 21-4 this season. They split two matches with league co-champion Otsego, which had five seniors in its starting lineup, to finish 11-1 in the SLL.
Eastwood also won a Division II sectional title with a win over Defiance, and the Eagles beat Ottawa-Glandorf in the district semifinals before losing to 17th-ranked Celina in the finals.
For those accomplishments, Beck was named the District 7 Coach of the Year.
"It's a great honor that people recognize everything we did this year," Beck said. "We had a great year. We had a lot of press and people were saying they heard a lot of good things about Eastwood. We had a supportive community and minimal complaints about anything."
The Eagles beat Lake in the final regular-season match to claim a share of the SLL with Otsego. It was Eastwood's first league title since 2005.
The team will return nearly intact next season, graduating just one senior in defensive specialist Katie Dewyre.
"Being the only senior, she still wanted to contribute to the sport of volleyball at Eastwood," Beck said. "She wanted to have a great year and give some leadership to the younger girls. And she did."
Beck formerly coached at Perrysburg, where his Yellow Jackets went 79-29 in five years including a berth in the 2006 Division I state semifinals. His first Eastwood squad was ranked as high as 16th in the state coaches' poll.
Needless to say, expectations will be high in 2010.
"The groundwork has been set," Beck said. "They understand what my expectations are, that we are a program now with no separation. We all train together, from the freshmen on up. They can all be called upon at any time. We are a complete program.
"At the beginning of practice we meet and talk and we train together and use the same setting tree for each team. They have bought into playing together and that's what has really helped the atmosphere about buying in. We have a lot of demands on them and a lot of expectations. We can work on improving our plays, moving people around and, hopefully, get into a situation where we can get into better matchups with teams. The whole team is coming back."
Eastwood's only other regular-season losses came against host Central Catholic in an early-season tournament and to 17th-ranked Huron (Division III). Beck's assistant coaches were Amanda Ankney, Laura Heringhaus and Chelsey Meek.
Eastwood players selected to the All-SLL first team were junior outside hitter Whitney Hoodlebrink and junior setter Katie Primeau. Junior libero Christine Foster and sophomore middle attacker Courtney Rolf were second-team picks.
Junior middle hitter Vicky Bruning and junior outside hitter Jordan Frobose were the Eagles' honorable mention all-league selections.
Two volleyball players from Clay’s City League final four-qualifying team also received recognition on the Division I District 7 all-star team.
Senior Megan Agoston was chosen to the second team and senior Lexi Laberdee was chosen to the honourable mention team.
In Division III, Gibsonburg senior Samantha Stainbrook, Lake junior Hailey Brittenham, and Genoa junior Alyssa Meis were second team selections. D-III honorable mention selections include Gibsonburg senior Aubrey Goetz, Woodmore senior Elishia Stone, and Genoa junior Hannah Morrison.