The Kenston Bombers extended two winning streaks last Tuesday with a win over neighborhood rival Chagrin Falls, 25-14, 25-10, and 25-11. They extended their Chagrin Valley Conference winning streak to 105 games and 17 straight wins over the Tigers dating back to 2005.
Kenston made the Division I Final Four just one year ago before losing in the semifinal to Massillon Jackson. The team finished with a 20-7 record and made the first appearance for the program in the Final Four since 2003.
The opportunity to return to Dayton is now the motivating factor for this successful program and will be driven this year by seven seniors, all of whom played in significant games last season.
The Bombers are led by a highly touted group of seniors, including Jamie Kosiorek, an Ohio University commit; Emily Newell, a commit to George Washington University; Stephanie Bindernagel, who will continue her career at Indiana State University; and High Point University commit Amy Pilat.
Kosiorek was named to the OHSVCA All-Ohio Second-Team last season. She was also named to the AAU All-American and the USA Junior Nationals all-tournament team during the summer while playing for The Academy for Volleyball Cleveland’s 17-and-under team. She was joined on the team by Bomber teammate Bindernagel.
The senior class is rounded out by the Bombers’ starting rotation of seniors Taylor Curtis, Lori Zagar and Katie Coverdale.
Talking about the legacy the senior class is looking to leave behind, Kosiorek said, “We have played together since seventh grade. Just for us seven to go through high school, and end out together, we’re so close and we all bring a different presence to the court.”
Bindernagel said, “The seniors show so much leadership, the presence and energy we give off. It’s great to work with seven (senior) girls with an undeniable will to win.”
The junior class will add depth to the rotation this season for the Bombers. The junior class includes Abby Randall, Kayla Braun, Rachael Brezovec and Jennifer Smith. The Bombers will also count on sophomores Michaela Barnes, Sydney Gorski and Michala Jepson.
This new season, the Bombers also have a leader in Stephen Scherlacher, who replaces Dan Coughlin. Scherlacher has spent the last four years as director of volleyball operations for Eastside Volleyball Club in Mentor.
Their win over Chagrin Falls was another example of the dominance the Bombers have shown in the early season. In matches they’ve won this season (nine), the Bombers have only dropped one set. The Bombers won their first set 25-14 and didn’t look back from there. They dominated the second set, 25-10, finishing the set on a 10-1 run. And in the third set the Bombers continued their dominance, jumping out to a 9-0 lead, meaning a total 19-1 run over the two sets. The third set win was punctuated by a Kosiorek kill to finish the match.
“For this team to come out and present that kind of play, as a team we were passing well and hitting well,”?Kosiorek said.
Added Scherlacher, “The girls were excited for today. They were very focused. They wanted to come in and play there best. They were very responsible and disciplined. I was very impressed with their play.”
The Bombers have played a strong schedule with the hope that is pays off come October. Their three losses have come against teams with a combined record of 38-3: Magnificat, Toledo St. Ursula and Padua. St. Ursula is currently the top-ranked team in Division I, while Padua is the top-ranked team in Div. II.
Scherlacher said, “The early season, the coaches and players were still getting used to each other. We worked through it and the girls have been extremely mature, and we have had many discussions about to make it better. The girls have bought in, and we’re on the same page going forward.”
The Bombers will look to add to an already impressive resume as they look to make a postseason run. They have two major non-conference opportunities remaining this season as they will participate in the NEO Power Tournament held at Mentor, which attracts many of the area’s top teams, and will travel to face defending Division II state champions Beaumont to close the season out on October 12.
They will also look to extend their CVC winning streak for another year by winning their six remaining conference games, and will extend their streak to 111 games. If the Bombers collect 20 wins this season, it will be their sixth season in the last seven with at least 20 wins.
When asked about a return trip to Dayton, Scherlacher said, “Our ultimate goal this year is to win a state championship, and we’re going to do everything in our power to do that. We need to remain focused and get better every day. We need to make sure we avoid the temptation of relaxing and losing a practice, because every practice and match is important for us to improve.”
Chagrin Falls dropped to 5-5 on the season with a 3-1 record in the Chagrin Valley Conference.