Monday, September 26, 2022

Viking Village update


It has been an up-and-down season for the VASJ soccer team and Coach K.C. Petraitis.

The Vikings have flashed some standout play this fall, but have also had some bumps in the road and have gone through some growing pains.

"We are doing some good things, but we are also making some mistakes so there is still a learning curve going on," VASJ coach K.C. Petraitis said. "Hopefully as we keep playing and pushing and learning, we will get better and be ready to make a run in the postseason."

VASJ has been in a stretch of tough games lately, including losses to Warren JFK, St. Thomas Aquinas and Oberlin in a rematch of a Division III sectional final last October. The Vikings did knock of NCL White rival Trinity, 3-1, on Sept. 16.

Daniel Cervenik and Jack Gallagher have been steady on the offensive attack for VASJ. Goalkeeper Dan Gail has received rave reviews from Petraitis, even in defeats. 

VASJ volleyball coach Mark Royer can see the growth of his team, not only with each match but every day in practice.

The Vikings have started the season 7-4 with recent wins over NCL White foes Cleveland Central Catholic and St. Thomas Aquinas. Among the losses are setbacks to high profile teams such as Gilmour and Holy Name, as well as South and Trinity.

VASJ has been bitten early by the injury bug with middle hitter McKenna Walker suffering an ankle injury that limited her mobility and forced a move to outside hitter.

Toni Beuck ad Taylor Sawicki have been very consistent in the offensive attack on the outside for the Vikings. Rachel Smith, who missed considerable time last year with an injury, has returned to play extremely well at the setter position.

"Right now, we are learning and getting better every day in practice where we push the girls to be their best," Royer said. "I look at this team and I think if we can get healthy and keep doing the little things that great teams do, we have a chance to make a playoff run."

Royer mentioned defense being a strength and that several other coaches have commented on how well VASJ "picks the ball up off the floor."

"Our defense is good, but you can always get better defensively," Royer said.

VASJ made it to the Division IV state championship game a year ago where they finished as state runner-up for the second time in school history. The Vikings also have won two state volleyball titles.

Before the postseason begins this year, VASJ has stern tests against Riverside and Cardinal out of conference as well as rematches with Trinity and Holy Name. 

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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