Bears continue perfect start, sweep Redskins
WINTERSVILLE — First-year Oak Glen volleyball coach Morgan Poling knew she had a talented group of players, but the challenge would be getting them all on the same page.
So far, so good as her Golden Bears continued an undefeated start to the season on Wednesday evening, running their record to 14-0 by sweeping Indian Creek, 25-21, 25-12, 25-16.
“I couldn’t ask for a better season so far,” Poling said. “The girls have really bought in to what we do in our gym daily. They are a fun group of girls. They work hard, they play hard, but most of all, they all have great character. All of the girls have come together in their roles. They all contribute in different ways, and I think that is why we’ve been so successful so far.
“We have talked about it from Day 1 on our goal sheet. It’s one thing to have a bunch of talent in the gym, but if they don’t buy in, it’s worth nothing. The girls came together and decided to play as a team. It takes every person on the bench and on the floor, and they have bought in to that.”
One of those talented players is Skye Stokes, a West Virginia University commit who is competing in her first season with Oak Glen after transferring from East Liverpool. She finished with 13 kills, three aces, four digs and an assist.
“She is interesting to coach,” Poling said of Stokes. “She is very, very talented, but she is just a normal teenager like the rest of the girls. She is one of our comedians on the team, too, so she keeps things interesting.”
Indian Creek (5-4) got off to a good start in the first set, holding an early lead, but once the Golden Bears got the momentum, it seldom switched back.
“They are a good team,” Indian Creek head coach Molly Wilson said of Oak Glen. “It’s tough, because we had them in that first set and we just weren’t able to finish. We weren’t able to come back from that in the second and third. We were super quiet tonight, and that’s something we have worked on all season is talking to each other, keeping that momentum up and finishing in the end. We’re going to continue to work on it.”
After overcoming the early Indian Creek lead to win the opening set, Oak Glen rolled in the next two.
“I think we started off a little slow, but then I think we came together, embraced our roles,” Poling said. “Adversity can build a team, the more adversity we see during the season will help us come postseason time. We talked in the huddle and said, ‘We have to come together and get this done as a team.’ The girls really bought in.”
The Redskins led the third set, 10-8, before Oak Glen rattled off the next 10 points, eventually fending off a late Indian Creek rally to close it out.
“It was a game of inches,” Wilson said. “We were just a step behind on everything. It just takes that extra step.”
In addition to Stokes, Jaedyn Hissam had 32 assists, three blocks, two digs and five points. Hannah Rogers and Alayna Kranis each had nine kills. Rogers added two aces and seven points. McKayla Goodlin had six kills, eight points and two digs.
The Redskins were led by four kills, five blocks, two aces and a dig from Taylor Jones. Sarah Mazzaferro had two kills and three digs. Olivia Wukelic had a kill and three aces. Carley Penner finished with a kill, two digs, three aces and six assists. Lyndi Starkey had four digs and four assists.
Oak Glen: Competes in a tri-match Saturday with John Marshall at Beaver Local.
Indian Creek: Hosts East Liverpool tonight.
(Grimm can be reached at email@example.com)