CEDARVILLE — She didn’t come right out and say it, but Cedarville High School volleyball coach Ashley Snider inferred that her team felt overlooked after being seeded third in the Division-IV sectional.
“When you get into tournament time and you go into seeding, there is only so much information that you know,” she said. “We didn’t get the No. 1 seed for a reason. Being the No. 3 seed, that gave us the opportunity … to prove that maybe we should have been at the top.”
Don’t doubt the Indians, folks.
Behind 11 assists and five digs from Anessa Butts and 16 digs from Gabrielle Tobias — and great play up and down the roster — Cedarville knocked off No. 1 Cincinnati Christian, 25-23, 25-15, 25-18, in a D-IV sectional final Tuesday, sending the Indians to their first district final.
Cedarville plays Russia (20-4) at 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31 at Troy High School.
“Beating the No. 1 seed was a great feat,” Snider said. “There really is no better feeling.”
A district finals appearance seemed like a longshot at best in the middle of September, when Cedarville lost four straight, five of six, and dropped to 4-6 overall. That streak coincided with the loss of senior leader Luisa Christian.
“Losing Luisa offset us,” Snider said. “We’d been working on the same lineup since the beginning of June. We’d been doing the same thing.”
Suddenly Snider, in her first season coaching the varsity team, was scrambling to figure out who to put where.
“It’s running different rotations, being in different spaces,” she said.
The Indians went 5-6 without Christian but did three of their last four before she returned. And since Christian returned to the lineup, Cedarville is 8-2 including three tournament wins.
“Not to say that it’s a one-man team, because it really isn’t,” Snider said. “Having her back isn’t just about skill. It’s about leadership. It’s about everybody being comfortable in their spaces.”
Cedarville is more versatile now, as players gained valuable experience while playing out of position.
“We kept some things the same,” Snider said. “That time frame opened up a lot of eyes … to try new things. We’ve got the best team that we’ve had by far.”
One aspect that won’t change heading into the match against Russia, a regional finalist the last three seasons, is game preparation. Snider said the Indians watched film on Cincinnati Christian all week, player-by-player and has already begun to do the same with Russia. Cedarville will pay close attention to details of where players typically swing, who tips at the net, how the back row plays, etc.
“There is strategy to it,” Snider said. “We’ll try to game plan against their weaknesses. At this point, we’ve got nothing to lose.”
Against Cincinnati Christian, Christian had nine kills, three digs, Anna Shepherd had six kills, four digs, and two aces, Rachel Beste had seven assists and two digs, and Olivia Miller had eight digs.
Saturday’s winner plays the winner of the Fort Loramie-Miami Valley Christian Academy district match in the regional semifinal at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5 at Northmont High School.