The venue is different and the stakes are higher but the game plan remains the same.
“Serve tough, put pressure on your opponent, pass well and stay mentally focused,” Alter coach Tina Jasinowski said.
That can, however, be easier said than done when a state title is on the line. Alter, Versailles and Marion Local are among the 16 teams in four divisions that will vie for coveted championship titles as the 39th Annual State Volleyball Tournament gets underway today at the Nutter Center.
The Knights, making their fourth consecutive state trip, are hoping that experience will pay off on Friday in the Division II semifinals.
“I definitely think it helps that we’ve been there before,” senior middle hitter Sara Crotty said. “It also helps that we know each other so well.”
Crotty, setter Mary Rodehaver and middle hitter Natalie Seiler are all wrapping up their fourth year of varsity play for the Knights. In all, 10 of the 12 state-bound Alter players are juniors or seniors. But the veteran players have more than experience – they have camaraderie.
“We hang out together even when we’re not on the court,” Rodehaver said. “We’re all really close.”
The close-knit Knights will try to earn the school’s first state volleyball title since 2006. It is Alter’s eighth trip to state in the past 12 years and the Knights have tallied three championship titles in that time.
“I’ve got a great group of girls who have had a really good season,” Jasinowski said. “We’re ready to see how far we can take it.”
MAC attack: Opponents during the regular season, the Tigers and Flyers are now each other’s biggest fans.
Midwest Athletic Conference rivals Versailles (D-III) and Marion Local (D-IV) are both state qualifiers marking the 20th consecutive year that at least one MAC volleyball team qualified to state. Several MAC teams, including the Flyers, have come away with championship titles.
“We are very fortunate to have the competition, intensity and quality of games we see in the regular season,” Versailles coach Karla Frilling said.
The connection is even stronger this season as Frilling is a former Marion Local assistant coach.
“The MAC is a great conference, we always support each other in the tournament,” Marion Local coach Amy Steininger said. “But this year is really exciting.”
Perfection: Three teams enter the state tournament with perfect records as D-I Toledo St. Ursula, D-II Dover and D-IV McComb all sport identical 27-0 records.
Defending champions: There are two defending state champions back in the field this season as DIV No. 1-ranked Marion Local (26-1) and DII Cleveland Heights Beaumont (20-7) are back after winning titles in 2012. The Flyers have won four state titles since 2007.
39th Annual Girls State Volleyball Tournament
When: Nov. 7-9
Where: Wright State University Nutter Center
Admission: $9 at gate, $7 pre-sale at participating schools
Schedule: Semifinal match times are approximate. The first semifinal will start at noon and subsequent matches will begin 30 minutes after the conclusion of the preceding match.
Division I: noon – Columbus St. Francis DeSales (26-1) vs. Toledo St. Ursula (27-0); 2 p.m. – Hudson (21-6) vs. Mount Notre Dame (23-3).
Division IV: 4 p.m. – Marion Local (26-1) vs. McComb (27-0); 6 p.m. – Newark Catholic (24-4) vs. Villa Angela St. Joseph (22-5).
Division III: noon – Versailles (25-2) vs. Upper Sandusky (25-2); 2 p.m. – Ridgewood (26-1) vs. Gilmour Academy (21-6).
Division II: 4 p.m. – Alter (23-3) vs. Dover (27-0); 6 p.m. – Beaumont (20-7) vs. Padua Franciscan (26-1).
Saturday: 11 a.m. – Division I; 1 p.m. – Division IV; 3 p.m. – Division III; 5 p.m. –