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Upper Sandusky Volleyball

September 1, 2013
The Advertiser-Tribune

Coach: Matthew McConnaughey, fifth season?

2012: 21-4, 12-2 North Central Conference (co-champs)

Returning letterwinners: Senior Taylor Graboski (MH). Juniors Madison Bianchi (DS); Jenna Holly (L); Kalene Johnson (MH); Ceidyer Niederkohr (OH/DS). Sophomores Jessi Holly (OH); Molly Owens (MH); Emma Smith (S/OH).

Article Photos

Upper Sandusky Volleyball: (front, left) Emma Smith,?Madison?Bianchi,?Jenna Holly,?Ceidyer Niederkohr, Taven?Wentling (back)?Matthew McConnaughey, Ali?Roeder, Kalene Johnson, Taylor Graboski, Jessi?Holly, Molly?Owens, Sandy Emerick.

Others: Juniors Ali Roeder (RH); Sophomore Taven Wentling (S/DS).

Outlook: Now is the time.

With just two lost to graduation and eight letterwinners returning, the Rams are poised to reach new heights.

The Rams are not only coming off a successful 2012 campaign but also a strong summer tourney showing.

"We've been to several tournaments this summer and played powerhouses like Toledo St. Ursula, St. Henry, McComb," McConnaughey said. "The only team to beat us was Toledo St. Ursula and that was in three (games), and they won by two points."

Still the Rams will need to players to step up to replace the ones they lost.

One of those holes will be filled by Smith.

"Emma Smith is our first new setter in five years," McConnaughey said. "She's very athletic, very intelligent, very coachable. She has the best vertical in my program. We'll be just fine with her."

The other hole will be filled by Roeder, who will play the right side. ?"I don't think we'll miss a beat," McConnaughey said.

Beating the drum, the floor and anything else that gets in her way will be all-Ohioan Graboski.

"Taylor is one of the best volleyball players in the state. If you're in Ohio and you talk about volleyball, you know the name Taylor Graboski," McConnaughey said. "She's known nationally. She was a national MVP of a club tournament when she was 15. She's the heart and soul of this team. She's always positive. She encourages everybody, not just some of them. She's everything you would want in a student athlete. I only have one complaint and that is that she's not a twin."

The senior will anchor the middle hitter role but the 6-2 Wilson killer is not the only towering presence on the team.

"I have three girls that are taller than I am and that's a great problem to have as a volleyball coach," McConnaughey said of Graboski, Owens and Jessi Holly. "(In those summer tourneys), teams thought we were (Division I) because I have three girls that are 6-2 and one that's 5-10. So in terms of height-wise, just to see those girls, you would have thought we were a bigger division than we are."

Owens will start in the front row with Graboski every game.

"So (team's) hitters for two rotations will be hitting against Taylor and Molly. Good luck," McConnaughey said with a wry smile.

While the competition was stiff over the summer, McConnaughey said he tries to avoid playing league foes. He said Galion, Buckeye Central and Wynford are the teams to beat in the league.

"In our league, in volleyball, and anywhere in the state, anybody can beat anybody on any given day," McConnaughey said. "Galion always plays us like it's life or death; like there's a firing squad out in the parking lot. They'll be fired up to play us and we have to bring our A game for those three opponents."

The Upper Sandusky mentor said the team wants to go undefeated in the regular season but is not looking any farther than that.

"It's one game, one match at a time," McConnaughey said.



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