GALION — To say that Galion High School’s volleyball team has put together a historic season in 2019 would be a severe understatement. With the rich history of the program — including a pair of state titles around the turn of the century — this season’s edition of the Tigers have most certainly left their mark in the GHS history books.
While preparations continue for Thursday’s Division III, regional semifinal — against 24-2 Ottawa Glandorf, the top-ranked D-III team in the state — it’s a good time to look back on some of the highlights that Galion has had throughout its run, one that was predetermined following last season’s district semifinals loss to Crestview.
“Last year, after we lost to Crestview in five sets in the district semifinals, I remember getting back on the bus and Jaime (Valentine, head coach) walking on and telling us, ‘next year is our year. We will make it out of districts,” said Galion senior Gillian Miller.
That simple statement from the Lady Tigers’ head coach appeared to set in motion the drive that has propelled this year’s volleyball squad to new heights. It all started on Aug. 20 with a 3-2 home victory against the Bellevue. Galion then earned a pair of victories in straight sets before suffering their lone loss of the season — on the road — to Division I Bishop Watterson on Aug. 28.
“I’m happy to be a part of the team that has gone this far,” said senior Brooklyn Cosey. “We knew that if we were going to do it, it had to be this year. I’m more than grateful to be on a team with such amazing coaches and teammates and it has made the beginning of my senior year the best and most memorable chapter of high school for me.”
Following that 3-1 start — in which the Tigers won nine of 14 sets — the orange and blue would begin a monumental run which includes: a 21-match winning streak (current): a 55-set winning streak (snapped Oct. 22 against Willard); a perfect, 12-0 conference season en route to a third consecutive Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference title; a sectional championship: a district championship; and a 57-2 mark in their last 59 sets.
“We knew we had a talented roster coming into the season, but learning how to play as a team is always a challenge,” Valentine said. “We have adapted to one another and have created a flow. Our trust has strengthened on the court and we have a versatile group that can play multiple positions and are mentally tough.”
That toughness and the ability to play multiple positions are key factors in Galion’s success this season. Senior leadership has also played a large role in determining the Tigers’ path thus far as Kerrigan Myers, Taylor Keeran, Miller, Cosey, Nicole Thomas, Kate Schieber and Grace Everly have all slotted nicely into their roles for Valentine’s squad.
“This is the largest group of seniors I have had in my coaching career,” added Valentine. “Although not very outspoken, they lead by example and have top-notch work ethics. They are selfless and understand what is truly important for team success. I could not be more proud of the impact they have made on our team and program, both on and off the court.”
With that large group of seniors has come the creation of the team’s more “family-like” atmosphere.
“I am just so thankful to enjoy moments like these alongside a team that has easily become family,” said the soft-spoken Schieber.”
Throughout the season, Galion has seen six all-conference team members — Keeran, Samantha Comer, Kayla Hardy, Jaden Ivy, Thomas and Myers — as well as multiple members of the squad being ranked among the leaders in the MOAC.
Hardy once again led the conference in assists, five of the top-11 attackers on the team finished in the top-11 in the MOAC in hitting percentage, with three girls finishing in the top-five in kills. The Lady Tigers also had five girls finish in the top-11 in service aces, two among the top-10 in blocks and four girls finished in the top-12 in digs.
“I feel like we just keep improving as we go. We’re not hitting very many setbacks,” said Galion Libero and senior leader Thomas. “It’s like we’re constantly coming together more. We’re talking more and we’re just pushing harder than any of us ever have before to meet the expectations and goals that we set for ourselves at the beginning of the season.”
The Galion Lady Tigers have made quite the run in 2019 as they head into their regional semifinals matchup against the Ottawa-Glandorf Lady Titans. Galion enters Thursday’s contest at 24-1, including a current 21-match winning streak.
The Galion Lady Tigers volleyball team has had much to celebrate thus far in 2019 including a third consecutive MOAC title, in which they didn’t lose a single set to conference opponents, a sectional championship and a district championship last Thursday over the Huron Lady Tigers.
Galion’s group of seniors (from left to right): Kerrigan Myers, Taylor Keeran, Gillian Miller, Brooklyn Cosey, Nicole Thomas and Grace Everly pose with head coach Jaime Valentine following their claim to the district championship by defeating the Huron Lady Tigers last Thursday at Seneca East High School.
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