MIDDLETOWN — For the seventh time in school history, Beavercreek’s boys volleyball team is headed to the Ohio High School Boys Volleyball state tournament. According to their coach, this team might just be the best group she’s had get there.
Beavercreek seemed to almost casually roll through the first two sets of the best-of-5 series, winning by scores of 25-10 and 25-16. The team may have relaxed a bit in the third set, as they had to battle back from behind on three different occasions to rally to a 25-21 final-set win.
“I think they took them a little too lightly,” Beavercreek coach Carol Bysak said of her team. “Fairmont is a very good team, and that third set could’ve gone a different way. So we’re gonna have to buckle down a little bit more.”
Bysak credited junior outside hitter Simon Ricks, sophomore Anthony Sanfilippo and setter Jarrod Brown with key performances in the win over Fairmont. Brown had put up the majority of sets that led to crushing kills for Ricks (unoffficially 12 kills and three service aces) and Sanfilippo (five kills, five blocks).
“Jarrod really does a great job in setting our offense. Simon, our outside hitter, was doing a wonderful job of serving up aces and hitting kills on the outside, and Anthony did a great job of hitting kills and blocking through the middle. So those three really did a nice job for us tonight,” Bysak said.
Beavercreek has advanced on to the state tournament seven times, but Bysak believes that this team is pretty special.
“Actually, I think this is probably my best team,” she said. “They’re very talented, and they’re young. A lot of those players are sophomores and juniors out there. They’ve just clicked a lot better than teams I’ve had in the past early in the season, and they have a ton of fun out there.”
Team captains Brown, Naumaan Hussain and Alex Parson said early-season losses in the team’s first two matches of the season, to state-ranked Columbus St. Charles and Gahanna Lincoln, may have led to the Beavers becoming more of a close-knit unit.
“We started the season off 0-and-2, which isn’t exactly the hole you want to be in,” Brown said. “Those were two really good teams, but I feel we could’ve won those games if we had played together. We ran into those teams at the start of the season. … But we definitely got closer, we played in some close games — and that includes some hard-fought three-set games with Lakota East and St. Xavier — and I think we’re a better team because of those matches. We’ve experienced those battles, and we’re closer because of the toughness of that competition.”
The state tournament will take place Saturday June 1 and Sunday June 2 at Capital University in Columbus.
Beavercreek, (20-5) and ranked No. 6 by the Ohio High School Boys Volleyball Association in Division I, has the unenviable task of opening up the state quarterfinals against Hilliard Darby, the top-ranked team in D-I. Other teams in the Division I Elite Eight are: No. 7 Lakota East, which will open against No. 3 Mount Vernon; No. 9 Cleveland St. Ignatius whose first-round opponent is No. 5 Cincinnati Moeller; and No. 2 Cincinnati St. Xavier who takes on No. 10 Jackson.
“We’ve been a little laid back in our matches, and so going into the state tournament, we need to get that win-win mentality back,” Hussain said.
“The key is for us to find a balance,” added Parson. “I think we play better when we are having fun and are playing loose. We also have to stay focused for the entire game. We can’t have lapses, like we did tonight. … Our focus this week will be working on finding that balance, so that we can play as well as we know we can.”
The Beavercreek-Darby match is set for an 11:45 a.m. start, with the winner taking on the St. X-Jackson winner at 10 a.m. in Sunday’s state semis. The Division I title match will then be played at 4 p.m. on Sunday.
The Division II tournament will also be held at Capital that weekend, but they are already in the Final Four rounds. Cincinnati La Salle takes on Stow Walsh Jesuit in one D-II semifinal, while Kettering Alter faces Columbus Watterson in the other.
Contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123. The OHSBVA state tournament matches can be followed online at: ohsbvabroadcasts.com .