Independence’s first trip to the state volleyball tournament ended prematurely with a 3-0 loss to top-ranked Coldwater in a Division III semifinal at the Nutter Center in Dayton on Friday.
The Blue Devils finished the year with a 26-2 record.
“Coldwater was a very good team,” said Independence coach Megan Osysko. “They were able to find our holes and we didn’t find theirs as many times as they found ours, unfortunately. We were definitely off our game. We didn’t play anywhere near to the extent we’ve played all season. That was very out of character for us.”
Independence, ranked fourth in Division III, held its own throughout the match, but the Blue Devils struggled to prevent Coldwater’s runs.
In the end, that was an obstacle the Blue Devils couldn’t clear as the Cavaliers went on to win 25-19, 25-21, 25-23.
“In the first set, we were up most of the game but they had a couple of two or three point runs and we couldn’t catch up,” Osysko said. “We started down in game two and game three. We caught up but we never could get over the hump of getting past them and beating them.”
The loss snapped Independence’s 14-match winning streak.
Independence closed out the year having won 71 of 78 sets played, which played a role in the team’s inability to battle back from a deficit.
“We were never exposed to that all year long,” Osysko said. “Not really being exposed to that, it’s hard to bring it all in a big match like that. Even though they swept us, the girls never quit. They kept fighting through it and gave them a competition.”
Senior Maura Collins led the Blue Devils with 18 kills.
She is the lone member of the squad that won’t return in 2018.
“Maura definitely left her stamp on the program,” Osysko said. “She’s not only done that, but she definitely impacted her teammates as a leader and that’s a lot of what she preached this year as a senior. I hope they take that on throughout the rest of their years at Independence. She did not quit and never gave up. She knew where she wanted to take the program.”
Eight of the nine Independence players that saw action at state on Friday will return next season with the intention of making a return trip to the Nutter Center.
“That was the conversation after,” Osysko said. “The girls saw what it was like to get down there and the hard work to get down there, but it’s definitely manageable. That’s the goal, to get the program back there year to year. We had a great year, obviously, and I’m very proud of the girls and what they’ve accomplished.”