Monday, January 30, 2023

VASJ volleyball reloads, prepares for move to Division II

The Villa Angela-St. Joseph volleyball team is coming off a second straight trip to the Division IV final four.

This fall, not only will there be some new faces making an impact for the Vikings, they will be facing new postseason opponents in a new division.

After the Ohio High School Athletic Association released the new enrollment numbers and realigned the divisions, VASJ was moved up to Division II in volleyball.

The Vikings fell to Fort Loramie in a Division IV state semifinal match last November – their second straight trip to Wright State for the final four in D-IV. Senior outside hitter Toni Beuck led the way for VASJ with 8 kills and 15 digs. McKenna Walker finished with 7 kills and 3 digs for the Vikings. Junior setter Rachel Smith had 24 assists for VASJ.

With Beuck, Walker, Taylor Sawicki and the rest of the class of 2015 moving on, this year’s Vikings are a team that is talented, but could fly under the radar, especially playing up two divisions higher than a year ago.

“The thing is I’m not sure if a lot of people know about us,” VASJ coach Mark Royer said. “We have two juniors, two freshmen, and some young kids stepping up from last year. We have a couple of lefties. I really like this group and things are starting to come together, but with some inexperience comes the normal growing pains and bumps in the road. We have to continue to work on that and grow as a team together.”

Smith is an All-Ohio setter who has battled injuries, but is the undisputed leader of the team. Junior middle hitters Emily Mastalski and Kiarra Franks earned valuable playing time in 2014 and will be counted on heavily this year. Freshmen Kathleen McGarry and Rebecca Korosec will hit the varsity floor immediately as their high school career begins at Viking Village. Angie Zamora, Nikkia Shadey, Michaela Mitchell, Emily Bopp and Sophia Tromba round out a talented roster that should improve while facing a difficult non-conference schedule as well as an always daunting North Coast League slate.

“These girls are very hard workers and they don’t mind the grind and I really believe that will help us get through our schedule and get ready for the postseason,” Royer said. “We have a lot of tris this year on Saturday, which is nice so it isn’t all Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday every week and we have some more time to work on things in practice.”


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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