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Wildcats fight through emotions for first win in return to the court

Edison sweeps Weir High in first match since death of coach

SWEET VICTORY — The Edison volleyball team celebrates an emotional win Tuesday after returning to the court for the first time since their head coach, Todd Smith, died on Friday. The Wildcats, wearing special shirts, swept Weir High for their first win of the season. -- Andrew Grimm

RICHMOND — High school sports can be a lot of things to a lot of people — a way to compete, bring communities together and a way to represent one’s school.

For the Edison volleyball team Tuesday night, it provided a way for a mourning team, and school, to remember a man gone too soon.

The Wildcats, wearing special shirts in a gym filled with emotion, signs and tributes to their late coach, Todd Smith, put together the performance of their season so far in their return to the court.

Smith, 44, who was Edison’s volleyball and track coach as well as assistant athletic director, died on Friday.

“This is a lot for them to take,” Edison coach Keely Drabick said of what the team has been through.

“I’m glad they took it and were able to do something positive. They played with heart and they showed on the court we have heart.

“Coach Smith left some big shoes to fill, and we’re going to do the best we can for him.”

Their best is exactly what the Wildcats showed, as they swept visiting Weir High, 25-18, 25-18, 25-18, for their first win of the season. Edison did not lose a set on the night as the jayvees made it a sweep with a 25-20, 25-15 sweep in the opener, too.

“They were showing that this is all for coach Smith,” Drabick said. “I told them earlier that what we did (Tuesday night) would show everybody the hard work and everything that coach Smith had put into these girls, into this team. And, they showed what his hard work has done.

“This was all for coach Smith.”

After an emotional pregame, during which a moment of silence was held, Edison players laid flowers on a chair holding a picture of Smith and Weir High presenting the Edison coaches flowers, the Wildcats swiftly turned tears to cheers by scoring the first point of the match — which it did in all three sets.

“Scoring the first point was big. I could see that we were soaring,” Drabick said. “There was a lot of focus and determination. A lot of them were trying to hold their emotions in. They bonded together; this is something we all have in common now. We all have the same goal now — win for coach Smith.”

Edison (1-6) went on a 10-2 run to close out the first set win, had a 7-2 run to open the second set and opened up a 20-9 lead enroute to going up 2-0, then scored six of the last seven points to secure the sweep in the third set.

“It was emotional in here, I’m happy for them that they won for their coach. It’s tragic,” Weir High head coach Fran Capaldi said. “We were hoping to get a win, though.

“We have a momentum problem. We just can’t find it. We can’t find our flow. We’re young and we don’t do well under pressure.”

For Edison, Alexandira Ash had five kills and a block, Gracie Fox had four kills and a dig, Savanna Ankrom two kills and three digs, Rebecka Evans seven assists and two digs and Katelyn Kowalczyk 14 sets and two assists.

For the Red Riders (1-8), Ziona Barnes had six kills, five digs, two aces and a block, Mallory Rosnick had four kills, three digs and a block, Janai Tunrer had 10 digs and Baylei Mills had six digs, a block and an ace and Mea Kaufman had eight assists, three kills, four digs and an ace.

“It’s a big win and a meaningful win for us.” Drabick said. “I hope they continue to play with that heart from here on out.”

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