After graduating a group of seniors that led Independence to three straight Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division championships, the Blue Devils were supposed to be in a rebuilding year.
So much for that.
On Thursday, Independence swept Chagrin Falls, 25-22, 25-15, 25-22, to clinch at least a share of a fourth straight league title and can win it outright with a win over Orange on Monday.
“It feels good, especially with a younger team, not that we ever held our expectations any lower than what I typically or our coaching staff normally has, but you never know what's going to come about having a new team playing together,” said Independence coach Megan Osysko. “It's been good to see them grow game to game.”
That growth can be measured by comparing Independence’s first game against Chagrin Falls to the second meeting on Thursday.
The Tigers stunned the Blue Devils in the first set back on Sept. 8, 25-20, and held a 2-1 lead heading into the fourth set. Independence went on to win the next two sets to clinch the 3-2 win.
Since then, Independence has won seven straight conference matches without losing a set.
“We took Chagrin Falls to five at their place so it's nice to see them improving each game and come back to beat them in three,” Osysko said. “Our setters have been doing a much better job of connecting with our hitters. We're just reminding them that we have to keep building on the chemistry of our team.”
Junior Maura Collins led the Blue Devils with 11 kills and also contributed with 16 digs. Sophomore Maranda Sedlock and freshman Kalli Screptock each had six kills and freshman Maddy Bilinovic posted a team-high 28 digs. Sophomore Katie May recorded five service aces and 13 assists in the win.
“The setters did a nice job of distributing the ball to all of our hitters,” Osysko said. “We decided to stick with a 6-2 (formation). Both of our right side hitters have been doing a nice job on that side.”
Independence improved to 16-2 overall and 12-0 in league play.
The Blue Devils travel to Huron on Saturday.