YELLOW SPRINGS — Metro Buckeye Conference Champions.
It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
Well, after Thursday night’s 25-11, 22-25,25-10, 25-14 win over Middletown Christian, that’s exactly what the Yellow Springs girls varsity volleyball team can call themselves. The night’s win clinched the outright title for the Bulldogs, the first time they’d won the MBC crown in school history.
“It’s the perfect chemistry. These girls are amazing,” said Yellow Springs coach Christine Linkhart. “We changed a few things for this match, and that’s probably why we came out a little slow. And so we went back to what worked.”
Linkhart then ran over and joined her team and several Yellow Springs students and for an impromptu photo session. With their fingers held high to signify who was no. 1, the players and fans mugged for their friends’ and parents’ cameras. Smiles were everywhere.
“This is so awesome. We went from second-to-last to being first,” said senior middle hitter Madeline Neilsen. Yellow Springs finished in a tie for next-to-last place in the MBC a year ago with a 6-11 overall mark, 3-7 in the MBC. “There are some really good teams in this league. I never thought this would happen, but we really play well together this year, and it’s made a huge difference.”
A tough five-set road win on Tuesday over perennial MBC powerhouse Springfield Emmanuel Christian guaranteed the Bulldogs at least a share of the title. Thursday’s win clinched the title outright.
There’s a large painted blue square up on the Yellow Springs High School gymnasium wall, signifying the girls volleyball team’s accomplishments through the years. The only marks within the near-empty square were for the 1977 team’s district and regional tournament titles.
“We’re going up there next!” Linkhart told the team.
Senior team captain Meredith Rowe couldn’t stop smiling as she put away her things after the match.
“This is incredible! This is amazing! This is the best team we’ve ever had. We all get along, we play well together and we love each other and we play well as a team. I’m soooo happy that this is how it turned out to be. I didn’t expect this at all,” she said.
Rowe led the team with 12 kills and at least a dozen digs. Alex Ronnebaum finished with nine kills, Neilsen added seven and Elizabeth Smith bashed another half dozen kills for Yellow Springs (15-5, 7-1 MBC). Kasey Linkhart dished out 18 assists, and Payden Kegley had seven digs in the win.
Rowe expressed how the entire team felt after Thursday’s match.
“We’re all just so happy. There’s no other way to really say it. We’re proud, we have an amazing coach and amazing teammates. We’re all good friends off the court, and this is just the best thing that could ever happen,” she said.
The MBC Champs return to Yellow Springs for their final regular season contest, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15 when they’ll host Middletown Madison for a nonleague match.
Reach John Bombatch at (937) 372-4444, Ext. 2123.