Thursday, September 16, 2021

Blue Devils advance to first Final Four in school history

As a senior in 2007, Megan Osysko led the Independence volleyball team to the program’s first regional championship game in school history.

On Saturday, Osysko coached the Blue Devils to their first regional title and state Final Four appearance.

“I am very grateful to be coaching a group of girls that work very hard every day,” she said. “I am excited for them to take on this opportunity for the program.”

Independence defeated Canton Central Catholic in straight sets, 25-15, 25-21, 25-17, at Barberton High School.

The Blue Devils improved to 26-1 on the year and have won all 15 sets played in the postseason.

“We are fortunate to have many girls play at a high level outside the high school season,” Osysko said. “They have a strong belief in their teammates and have learned to trust the process.”

Senior Maura Collins is excited to close out her high school career in the Final Four.

“From the beginning of the season, we’ve all had this goal,” Collins said. “Obviously, it was serious and meant a lot to me, but to have these girls really take it to heart and work for this my senior year means everything.”

The Blue Devils have been dominant from their first match of the season through the last.

Ranked fourth in the final Ohio High School Coaches’ Association Division III state poll, Independence has won 77 of 82 sets played this season. The team’s only loss was a 2-1 setback to St. Joseph Academy, a Division I state semifinalist.

“We’ve been in tight matches and tight scrimmages,” Collins said. “We’re pretty comfortable in those situations. To go to states and make history was the goal from freshman year, but to make it a reality is beyond words. It proves how hard we work. We aren’t done.”

Independence will play Coldwater, the Region 10 champion, in a state semifinal at 12:00 p.m. on Friday at the University of Dayton’s Nutter Center.

The Cavaliers, the state’s top-ranked Division III team, is 27-1 on the year.

“We approach the Final Four the same way we have this season,” Osysko said. “Working hard each play, playing in the moment and getting the next point.”

For Collins, the Final Four is a preview of things to come as she’ll play her college volleyball at Dayton.

“I’m excited to play in Dayton and I hope my coaches can come watch,” she said. “One of my future teammates is playing for the Division II title, so we’ll both be down there competing. It’ll be cool.”

Steve Harehttp://www.ohiovarsity.com
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes OhioVarsity.com, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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