Kristen Gyori, a Clay graduate, is the lead setter for the team with 594 assists. In a huge match recently against #13 nationally ranked Columbus State, Gyori recorded 22 assists en route to a victory for the Express.
“I get to control who gets the ball and how the court is run,” Gyori said. “It’s a really big role and sometimes it can be overwhelming.”
Overwhelming or not, Gyori sets the ball for players such as Brittney Bradner.
Bradner had 10 kills in the game against Columbus State and has 260 kills on the season. She feels her game has seen a big difference from last year.
“Individually, I think that I hit harder, and I am a lot smarter this year,” Bradner said. “Volleyball is not all about the physical aspect. It has a lot to do with knowing the game and I think that this season I am getting a better volleyball I.Q.”
Gyori also said that she has seen a difference from last year’s team, except she brought the team aspect into it.
“Last year, we mainly set the ball to a few select people, but this year we can give the ball to anyone and know that the job is going to get done,” she said. “It is such a great feeling when you know that everyone is great at accomplishing their job on the court.”
Bradner, one of three team captains, has the same feeling.
“I think we have shown a lot of leadership on the court instead of just one player dominating,” she said. “The returning players hit better, block better, pass better, and are just all around better compared to last year. When a coach scouts us, I don’t think he can target just one or two players to shut down like last year. This year all the players can put the ball down.”
On the court, the team is ranked #17 in the country, as of press time, and stands at 29-9 overall and 5-0 in the Ohio Community College Athletic Conference. The team is focused on making it to nationals this year after falling one game short of making it there last year.
In the big win Oct. 3 against Columbus State, previously 20-1 and 4-0 in the league, Owens avenged an earlier non-league matchup loss against Columbus State. They set a season high in blocks with 15, with Bradner getting six of those.
On the season, Gyori has played in 123 games this season and, in addition to her 594 assists, also has 105 digs and a .571 hitting efficiency. Imbery has 14 assists and 16 kills in 30 games this year.
Bradner, Gyori, and Imbery are all focused on making it to nationals this year, their last year at Owens, and achieving success beyond the court in the future.
Gyori would like to get her degree in physical therapy and then going into coaching.
“I want to help little kids with their fundamentals in volleyball so they can grow as a player just like everyone on our team has,” she said.
Imbery plans on continuing her education at BGSU to major in adolescent education and intends on becoming a high school math teacher.
Bradner, who also serves as the managing editor of “The Outlook” student newspaper at Owens, is looking to go to a school with a good journalism program.
The team plays their final two home matches of the season this week.
On Friday Oct. 10 at 6 p.m. the team hosts Edison State Community College. Following that, the team will host their “Volley for the Cure” match to raise breast cancer awareness on Saturday Oct. 11 against Sinclair Community College at 11 a.m. That game is also Appreciation Day for the Express volleyball team.
As they close in on the end of their career at Owens, Bradner, Gyori and Imbery have no regrets and appreciate their time at the college.
“I don’t think I would change anything because we have an excellent program with a proven history of success,” Imbery said. “I’ve made relationships that I’ll keep for a lifetime.”
“My time at Owens has meant so much to me,” Gyori said. “Not only did I learn more about volleyball, but I also learned more about myself and it really helped me grow as a person.”
“When I think about the season coming to an end, it is so bitter sweet,” Bradner said. “This could be my last year playing volleyball and that is one of the hardest things I have to face. I love volleyball and playing for Owens has been one of the best times of my life. I am really, really going to miss it.”