Saturday, January 28, 2023

Blue Devils record milestone win at Perry

Independence’s 3-0 win at Perry on Thursday was big for a couple of reasons.

First, it kept the Blue Devils in the driver’s seat of the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division and it was the team’s 50th straight conference win under head coach Megan Osysko.

“Fifty wins is a direct reflection of the hard working athletes that come through the program,” Osysko said. “When I took it over four years ago, my goal was to be top in the conference and continue to grow each year. It's a good reminder that the countless hours in the gym are paying off.”

Some coaching strategy has contributed to that run of conference wins.

At Perry, Osysko moved junior Maura Collins from outside hitter into the setter’s role. Collins dished out 17 assists and tied freshman Maddy Bilinovic with a team-high 17 digs.

The Blue Devils rallied back from a 7-0 deficit to win the first game 25-22. They won the second, 25-18, and closed out the match with a 25-22 win in the third.

“We have been making some quick decision lineup switches and the team has been responding well to our feedback,” Osysko said. “They continue to work as a team on the court and are supported by their teammates off the court. We can't go far unless everyone buys into the team atmosphere we are creating. We knew Perry was going to be ready to play and we came in and took care of business to earn another big match in conference play.”

Sophomore Lexi Prokopius led the Blue Devils with 11 kills.

“It was really important we got the win tonight because the first time we played Perry we took them to four (games) and that was with our starting setter Katie (May) and since she got hurt we made some changes and we're still able to get the win,” Prokopius said. “Everyone came together as a team and Maura made it easier for us being able to play every position. She did a good job being the setter tonight and an even better job at being a team captain.”

Prokopius also had an ace and three digs to go along with her work atop the net.

“I think the setting, passing, and all the energy my team had really helped me hit better tonight,” she said.

Freshman Kalli Screptock contributed with five kills and three digs. Freshman Katie Thompson led the Blue Devils with four service aces and freshman Katie Taliaferro posted a team-high two blocks.

With Collins taking over at setter, Bilinovic’s role as the team’s libero was even more important.

“Tonight we had Maura step in to set for us, so we were losing a key part of our defense,” Bilinovic said. “I knew that I had to step it up in order for us to get the W tonight. I always have the mind set when I'm playing to not let the ball hit the floor. Every game when me and Maura are in the back row together, we really feed off of each other's energy and this helps my game a lot in the long run. Our team worked hard tonight and I'm proud of what we accomplished together.”

Independence improved to 11-1 overall and 9-0 in league play. The Blue Devils, ranked No. 14 in the latest Division III state poll, host VASJ and Revere in a tri-match on Saturday.


Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, 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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