After graduating seven starters, four of whom now play in college, not very many outsiders expected the Kenston volleyball program to be back in the Division I regional tournament this season.
Defying the doubters, the Lady Bombers not only advanced, but they nearly pulled of an upset against state No. 14-ranked Brunswick in the round of 16 last week in Broadview Heights.
The Lady Blue Devils, however, came out on top during a four-game battle, 17-25, 25-18, 26-24, 25-21.
Since moving up to Division I in 2011, the Kenston volleyball team has bumped heads with Solon in the district final every season.
During last Thursday's collision, the top-seeded Lady Bombers proved to be the bigger truck on the road to regionals as Kenston claimed its third straight championship in three sets, 25-19, 25-19, 25-23, on the Lady Comets' home court.
In Kenston's starting rotation for all three district titles, senior middle hitter Jen Smith said the emotions run higher and higher each year the Lady Bombers take on Solon.
On the verge of destruction, the Kenston girls volleyball team entered unfamiliar territory when the Lady Bombers faced a 2-1 game deficit in the best-of-five match Tuesday night in Chagrin Falls.
Sole ownership of their 10th consecutive Chagrin Valley Conference title was on the line, not to mention a 119-0 league record dating back to 2005.
The host Lady Tigers were coming from all directions with five spikers executing kills for victories in games two, 25-22, and three, 25-18, as well as eight aces overloading the service market.
Kenston has dominated the Chagrin Valley Conference landscape for the past decade.
Kenston’s volleyball team has won 11 straight Chagrin Valley Conference championships, and the Bombers are off to another good start this year.
This past week Kenston traveled to rival West Geauga and won in three games: 25-14, 25-19, 25-14.
With both teams having first-year coaches, Steve Scherlacher and his Bombers improved to 2-3 and 2-0 in the CVC, while Chris Carlo’s Wolverines bunch dropped to 1-4 and 0-2.
The Bombers cruised through the first game. It was the second game where the Wolverines showed their potential.
Kenston volleyball players Jaime Kosiorek, Emily Newell and Lori Zagar blared out their victory screams before hugging each other in celebration.
Stephanie Bindernagel and Amy Pilat collapsed to the floor as they always do after a big win.
Taylor Curtis put her arms in the air and jumped up and down as the rest of the Lady Bombers cleared the bench and stormed the court.
It was the third straight meeting between Kenston and Solon in the finals, but never had the volleyball rivalry gone to five games.
Solon had all the momentum as the Lady Comets won game four, 25-23, despite having a service rotation infraction that resulted a four-point swing midway through. Solon had an 18-12 lead, but the illegal rotation adjusted the score to 15-13.
There's no messing around for the Kenston volleyball team now that it's win-or-go-home time, as the Lady Bombers have soared high above a pair of "Heights" to get their postseason flight under way.
Kenston flew by Shaker Heights and Maple Heights during Division I Solon District action and is set for a third consecutive finals showdown against the Solon Lady Comets at 7 p.m. Thursday. Solon won in 2011, Kenston in 2012.
During their playoff opener against Shaker last Thursday, the top-seeded Lady Bombers secured a sweep, 25-4, 25-5, 25-6.
Beat Goes on for Kenston Volleyball
Kenston will take on top-ranked 25-0 Toledo St. Ursula Academy in the Regional Semifinals
A sign hanging in the gym at Kenston High School reads Leave No Doubt.
This motto spoke volumes on how the Bombers played last week against the host Solon Comets in the Div. I district finals.
The Bombers, behind steady play from seven seniors, defeated the Comets in a five-set thriller.
The Kenston Bombers extended two winning streaks last Tuesday with a win over neighborhood rival Chagrin Falls, 25-14, 25-10, and 25-11. They extended their Chagrin Valley Conference winning streak to 105 games and 17 straight wins over the Tigers dating back to 2005.
Kenston made the Division I Final Four just one year ago before losing in the semifinal to Massillon Jackson. The team finished with a 20-7 record and made the first appearance for the program in the Final Four since 2003.
One would think that a Division I final-four volleyball program that returned all of its starters from a season ago would have no problem rolling over opponents in an eight-team regular season tournament.
But when Kenston traveled to Gilmour on Saturday for the Lancer Invitational, the Lady Bombers were up against some of the top talent in Northeast Ohio.
Entering the tournament, the eight teams had a combined 52-16 record. Kenston was one of three contenders not ranked in the Ohio High School Volleyball Coaches Association's first weekly poll.
When Kenston's Jaime Kosiorek first tapped into her college search, Atlantic Coast Conference and Big Ten Conference schools were on her mind.
The 6-foot outside hitter is an all-Ohioan and Chagrin Valley Conference most valuable player for the Lady Bombers, who finished their 2012 campaign with a Division I trip to the final four, not to mention a top-50 national ranking by Prep Volleyball entering this season.
Naturally, players like Kosiorek look forward to having solid college careers. "I was actually looking pretty hard at Maryland, which is a really good school, but Maryland was kind of playing games with me," Kosiorek said. "Like, I couldn't get a direct response or feel with what was going on with them."
The Kenston volleyball preseason ran as expected for new head coach Steve Scherlacher. He was surrounded by experience, talent and focus.
The Lady Bombers have seven seniors returning from their 2012 Division I state final-four team, and four of them are committed to Division I college programs – Jaime Kosiorek, Emily Newell, Stephanie Bindernagel and Amy Pilat.
"The talent was as expected, if not a little better than what I expected," Scherlacher said about preseason action. "There was a couple weeks of getting to know each other - players getting used to me and me figuring out all the little things about the players, like how they best respond, how to communicate with them.