Independence’s volleyball team closed out the 2015 season on Thursday in the Division III Elyria District championship game. The loss also ended the high school careers of four Independence seniors: Emily Magas, Ashley Thompson, Mallory Trombetta and Hallie Zumack.
The four seniors, along with a talented group of underclassmen, led the Blue Devils to a 20-6 record and a third straight Chagrin Valley Conference championship.
“For having a good veteran crowd and then three or four freshmen constantly on the floor at a time, I think that’s a huge accomplishment for one, our record and winning another conference championship but also making it back to the district final,” said Independence coach Megan Osysko. “I’m glad that the young ones were able to experience that with our older players.”
Independence’s senior class compiled an 80-19 record over the past four seasons with two district championships and three league titles to its credit.
“Our seniors have set the tone for the program for the past three years that I’ve been there and I’m proud of their accomplishments,” Osysko said. “Obviously you always want to accomplish more but they changed the outlook for the program.”
Zumack is the only senior to play all four years on the Independence varsity squad.
She finished the season with a team-high 644 assists and also contributed with 170 kills, 50 service aces, 24 blocks and 223 digs.
She will continue her volleyball career and education at Tusculum University in Greeneville, Tenn.
“Hallie is one of the best setters to come through Independence, statistically and leadership-wise,” Osysko said. “She’s a very hard-working girl. She gets her team rallied behind her to win matches. You can’t really teach that kind of attitude or work ethic for a kid. She’s going on to continue to play and I know she’ll do some awesome things down at Tusculum. I can’t wait to see what she will do there.”
Magas missed almost half the year with a foot injury but still finished third on the team with 153 kills and pitched in with 22 aces and 161 digs.
“Emily has done a great job,” Osysko said. “This year was tough because we didn’t have her for half the season. She came back and had an awesome attitude. She kept the team together regardless of if she was on the court or not. That was really huge. She definitely made an impact on the other girls.”
Trombetta transferred home to Independence after spending her freshman season at Gilmour Academy and finished her career as one of the most prolific defensive players in the program’s history.
She recorded a team-high 387 digs in 2015 and also had 29 aces and 408 service receptions. In a district semifinal win over Lutheran West she recorded the 1,000th dig of her career.
“Mallory is one of the best defensive players to come through the program,” Osysko said. “I’m not really sure many liberos hit that in our program, especially for her only being in the program for three years. She’s been the heart of our defense. She rarely ever got rattled and her work ethic of keeping the ball off the floor, she really set the tone as far as the expectations for the libero in our program.”
Thompson sat out her junior season but returned to the team as a senior.
She finished the year with 135 digs and 10 aces.
“I’m just very happy that she decided to come back and finish out her senior year,” Osysko said. “I was sad when she didn’t come back and play junior year because she’s awesome on defense and has a great work ethic and a will to keep the ball off the floor. I was ecstatic when she decided to come back and play.”
Osysko believes her four seniors inspired their younger teammates to continue to work hard and strive for bigger and better things in the future.
“That core group of four held it together and they definitely were a special group and had a special bond,” Osysko said. “(The younger girls) have a lot to live up to moving forward. I hope they keep that same mentality and continue to grow as a team and as a program. I know they were all very bummed out because they love this group of seniors. We lose seniors each year and we’ve got to continue to grow and hold ourselves accountable to the same standards.”
Magas, Trombetta and Zumack will play in the district all-star match on Friday, Nov. 20.