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Eagles seek more success (08-16-13) PDF Print E-mail
Written by KEVIN GORDON, Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor   
Friday, 16 August 2013 08:41
Eastwood’s Jaci Juergens sets the ball as Mackenzie Albright watches during the regional tournament last season. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
LUCKEY - Eastwood's volleyball team has impressive goals this season.
Based on the last four seasons, the Eagles' expectations are well within reason.
They return seven letter winners from last season when they finished 23-4 overall and won the Northern Buckeye Conference with a 14-0 record.
Eastwood was ranked 12th in the final state coaches poll, and won sectional and district championships before losing to top-ranked Parma Padua in a Division II regional semifinal.
The league championship was the fourth straight for the Eastwood, which shared the Suburban Lakes League title in 2009 and 2010, and won outright NBC titles the last two seasons.
Eastwood's primary goals this season are to win another NBC title and return to the regional.
"We're definitely just as motivated as we ever have been," Eagle junior setter Jaci Juergens said. "We're not satisfied with what we've done."
The Eagles are 88-16 overall and 50-2 in league play the last four seasons. They've advanced to at least the district tournament all four seasons.
"We don't want to stop the tradition that all of the other players have started in the years before us," Eastwood senior outside hitter Elise Wolff said. "The older girls, it pushes us to keep working harder and not be satisfied because we know all of the hard work the players before us have done."
Wolff returns after totaling 283 kills and 198 digs last season, while senior middle hitter Cassidy Rolf also is back after totaling 89 kills and 44 blocks as a junior. Juergens had 758 assists.
Still, Eastwood has its share of concerns.
The Eagles have to replace 228 kills and 58 blocks from Allison Sutton, 226 kills from Brooke Salazar, and 503 digs from Aricka LaVoy, who was the NBC's player of the year last season.
LaVoy was terrific in the back row, rarely letting a ball hit the floor and accounting for 85 percent of the team's passes. LaVoy and Sutton were the team leaders.
"We need to improve a little bit on our defense and serve receive, but the girls are working hard and they're getting better every time we practice," said Eastwood coach Jeff Beck, who is in his fifth season.
Sophomore Mackenzie Albright, who played on the varsity last season, will take over for LaVoy. Rolf could see action in the back row, too.
"Albright is an all-around athlete and very coachable,"  Beck said. "She saw (LaVoy's) demeanor and how she played and handled everything. She is making huge strides and doing a great job."
Beck figures his team will be good offensively as usual. In addition to Wolff, sophomore outside hitter Bri Hoodlebrink figures to be a major factor.
"Our offense looks great. We're not going to miss a beat," Beck said. "We have girls who are stepping in and still running the same plays that those girls ran last year. With more reps, they're getting better and better. We have a really good attacking team."
Wolff's kill total led the Eagles last season.
"She's one of the top hitters in Northwest Ohio," Beck said. "She will be the person we go to when we need a kill, front row or back row."
Juergens is in her third year on the varsity, totaling 1,446 assists her first two seasons.
"Jaci is the glue holding us together," Beck said. "You can bring in these new players and the pace of getting them where they need to be goes a lot faster when you have a great setter."
The key for the Eagles will be their passing and serve reception. With LaVoy, almost every pass to Juergens was perfect. But the Eagles often struggled when their passing and serve receive were off.
"When we are in system, we're a very good team. When we're not in system, we're not a good team," Beck said. "We're teaching our girls how to win points when we're not in system which is a hard skill to teach. We're doing a lot of drills to mirror if you have bad defense or passing."
Beck is pleased with his team's play overall this summer with a schedule of tournaments, and in a league in Perrysburg.
"The girls really did a nice job," Beck said. "It showed us how good we can be and it also showed us what we need to work on, so it's been good."
"We've improved a lot since the end of last year, but we also know we have some things to work on," Juergens said.
Last Updated on Friday, 16 August 2013 09:44

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