High School Volleyball: New roster, same expectations for defending state champion Fenwick

The Fenwick High School volleyball team won its fifth straight district championship last week. CONTRIBUTED
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The Fenwick High School volleyball team won its fifth straight district championship last week. CONTRIBUTED

The roster changed drastically but the expectations didn’t change at all for the Fenwick Falcons.

Despite losing eight players to graduation – seven of whom were in the regular rotation – the Falcons recently claimed their fifth consecutive Division II district volleyball championship. The defending D-II state champions are now just two wins away from a return trip to the state tournament.

Fenwick takes on Tippecanoe on Thursday at Centerville High School in the regional semifinals.

“We’re playing our best ball right now,” Fenwick coach Tyler Conley said. “Over the years, even with our best teams, in September we look like garbage but when the calendar flips to October, things just seem to click.”

There have been some growing pains for the 16-7 Falcons this season as Conley tried several different on-court combinations. There was also a leadership gap to fill.

“Our three seniors had been with us for four years but had never been asked to be leaders,” Conley said.

Fenwick has also relied on a solid core of younger players as seven juniors and two sophomores are making a significant impact this season. Junior middle blocker Kate Hafer leads the team with 257 kills and 36 blocks while junior setter Caroline Hensley has tallied 625 assists and 117 digs. Sophomore libero Ellie Foley leads the Falcons with 371 digs and 46 aces. All three players earned GCL Co-Ed and District first-team recognition.

“We’re still learning how to compete and how to win,” Conley said. “But we have learned from our losses.”

If the defending state champions can get past Tipp, the Falcons will face a familiar foe in the winner of the Badin vs. Roger Bacon match. It would be the third meeting this season with either team.

“We’ve been competing against each other a long time and the girls also know each other from club ball,” Conley said.

But the Falcons aren’t taking any chances, on or off the court. They aren’t overlooking any opponent and they are taking COVID protocols seriously.

“We even have masks on in practice now,” Conley said. “At the end of every practice I tell them to ‘make good choices and put themselves in good positions.’”

* Division I: It’s all Cincinnati at the D-I regional as Seton faces off against Ursuline and Mount Notre Dame plays St. Ursula. The GGCL teams are tournament tough as Mount Notre Dame qualified to state last year – bowing out in the semifinals – and Ursuline won the D-I state championship in 2018.

* Division III: Versailles is back at the D-III regional tournament and will play McNicholas in the semifinals at Fairmont on Thursday. The Tigers could earn a rematch against a Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy team that put an end to their state run in the regional finals a year ago.

* Division IV: Familiar foes will make a run for a coveted D-IV state berth. Defending state champion New Bremen will face Tri-Village in the regional semifinals at Northmont on Thursday. The winner will advance to the regional finals against Fort Loramie or Russia. Fort Loramie edged out Russia in the regional finals last year and closed out the 2019 season as state runner-up to the Cardinals. Fort Recovery will battle Tiffin Calvert Thursday at Elida High School.