A couple of heartbreaking five-game losses is all that separated the London High School volleyball team from earning a share of the Mid-State League Ohio Division title and finishing second where it the Red Raiders did a year ago.
London (14-9 overall) was 11-3 in its first season of the MSL Ohio and finished behind only league champion West Jefferson (17-6, 14-0). In the two battles with the Roughriders, London dropped two tough matches that if they would’ve won would have given them the crown.
“West Jefferson will be the team to beat in the league,” London coach Darrel Eades said. “We lost two times to them in really close matches last year. They didn’t lose anybody, so they’re definitely the team to beat. But I feel like we’re right there with them.”
The Red Raiders coach said his team has added some height and improved since last year and he likes the direction his team is moving in.
“We still have a ways to go,” he said. “We’re not in mid-season form, but I do like what we’ve seen so far.”
The coach is turning his attention toward a group of varsity veterans to lead the way this fall, they include seniors Lauren Miller, Madison Ripley (honorable mention all-league last season), Mackenzie Long and Katlyn Ray as well as junior Mackenzie Minner.
Minner, although just a junior, is back at her setter position where she was a second-team All-MSL pick a year ago. The coach likes what he has in the budding vocal leader.
“She’s just a junior but her mentality and approach is helping a lot,” the coach said. “She’s totally engaged and doing a good job of being vocal as well as leading by example.”
Having a group of players that he can lean on to help lead practices and help prepare the team for the tough schedule they’re going to play this year is a luxury the coach is looking forward to having.
“It’s very nice when you have kids like that,” he said. “It makes the job a little bit easier when you have kids you can count on to lead the way.”
Other members of the team include juniors Hannah Martin (all-league honorable mention), Jessie Zimmer and Ally Robertson, as well as freshman Addison Conley.
Eades knows that if his team can avoid the injury bug it will be competitive in the league and beyond.
“If we can stay healthy we will be right there,” he said. “We’ve got a brutal schedule but I think we can play with everyone on our schedule.”
Chris Miles can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.