Independence’s rebuilding season ended with a five-set loss to Lutheran West in the Elyria Division III district semifinals, leaving the Blue Devils with a 20-4 record and a lot of hope for the future.
Leading the charge was junior captain Maura Collins, a Dayton recruit, who led the team with 293 kills in 74 sets and was among the team leaders in almost every statistical category.
For her efforts, Collins was named first team All-Ohio. She is the first Blue Devils player to receive such a lofty honor.
“We are so proud of her,” said Independence coach Megan Osysko. “She leads the team by example– hard-work, dedication and commitment to becoming better each time she steps onto the court. Maura has helped set a standard for our program that girls following should strive for. Her work isn't done yet. She still has another year of growth along her journey as a captain of the volleyball team.”
In addition to her nearly 300 kills, Collins recorded 52 service aces, 169 points, 11 blocks, 308 digs and 95 assists.
Collins also was named league MVP, first team all-Chagrin Valley Conference and first team all-district.
She’ll return next season with a group of underclassmen that grew up in a hurry this season.
Despite their youth, the Blue Devils won a third straight CVC Chagrin Division championship without losing a match and collected a sixth straight sectional title.
They nearly upset top-seeded Lutheran West in the district semifinals. After falling behind 2-0, the Blue Devils won two straight games but fell short in the fifth and deciding set, 15-9.
“At any point in time there were at least three freshmen on the floor at a time,” Osysko said. “They did well. In games three and four we beat them pretty good to come back.”
That bodes well for the future as every varsity returns next season including second team all-CVC selections Maddy Bilinovic, a freshman, and sophomore Lexi Prokopius. Bilinovic and Prokopius also were named second team all-district.
Freshmen Katie Taliaferro and Katie Thompson both were named to the CVC honorable mention list and Taliaferro earned the same award at the district level.
Independence’s varsity roster included four freshmen and eight sophomores.
The Blue Devils won 61 of 74 sets played and went to five sets just twice in 24 games.
“They did prove a ton this season,” Osysko said. “They were young and restless and unfortunately we came up short. All the girls were disappointed. When we met with them, we asked them where do they see themselves in the next three years and what kind of legacy do they want to leave behind?”