Saturday, January 28, 2023

Blue Devils return to regional tournament

ELYRIA—After a two-year absence, Independence’s volleyball team is making a return trip to the regional tournament.

Independence made quick work of Brooklyn in Saturday’s Division III district championship game and will play Burton District champion Berkshire on Thursday in a regional semifinal at Barberton High School.

The Blue Devils won their third district championship since 2013.

“We’re very happy to make it back to that point,” said Independence coach Megan Osysko. “We haven’t been back there in a couple years. I’m very proud of the whole team. They’ve been working very hard in practice, and definitely in the postseason, to get ready for these matches.”

Independence swept the Hurricanes, 25-15, 25-12, 25-17. The Blue Devils have not lost a set in the postseason and have won 69 of 74 sets played this season to improve to 24-1 on the year.

The only loss of the season, a 2-1 setback, was against Division 1, Region 2 semifinalist St. Joseph Academy, a team that finished ranked No. 6 in the final Division I state coaches’ poll.

Beating Brooklyn started on defense.

“We’ve been stressing, especially against Brooklyn, expect the ball to come over in one, two and potentially three hits, and be ready for anything to come over,” Osysko said. “Everyone was staying low and doing their job of keeping the ball off the floor.”

Independence last played in the regional tournament in 2014 when the Blue Devils fell to Orrville, 3-0. Gilmour Academy beat the Blue Devils in the 2013 regional semis, 3-1.

The 2017 regional semifinal matchup pits two Chagrin Valley Conference champions against one another. Independence won the Chagrin Division while Berkshire won the Valley Division. The Badgers enter the game with a 23-2 record.

“It’s the same mindset of just one game at a time and playing our game,” Osysko said.

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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