Young Comets winless, but they’re learning on the job

J. Patrick Eaken

        Just because a team is struggling to find wins doesn’t mean that the season is not successful. Genoa second-year volleyball coach Christianna Bialorucki is experiencing that right now.
        After finishing 2-21 last year, including 1-13 in the Northern Buckeye Conference, the Comets are winless in nine matches so far. As a matter of fact, they have only won two of 29 games so far — one against Delta and the other against NBC foe Otsego, having been shut out in the other seven matches.
        Of course, it does not help that Lake is ranked 17th in the first Division III state coaches’ poll, and that was one of the three game sweeps.
        “I think our competition is great. Lake, Eastwood, and Otsego all have long standing great programs,” Bialorucki said. “They produce great athletes and overall well skilled volleyball players. Woodmore, Elmwood, and Rossford are younger but they have a great defensive specialist mentality.”
        Bialorucki had seven letter winners returning, including key players in middle hitter Kaity Truman, outside hitter/defensive specialist Sydney MacDonald, setter/right side hitter/DS Sam DeVerna, OH/DS Alisah Bailey.
        Of the four, all but DaVerna are juniors and returning letter winners, which is why it may take another year before they can even talk about becoming contenders, plus they are learning some new roles, too.
        Bailey leads the team with 37 kills and MacDonald follows with 34, DaVerna has a team-leading 26 aces and assists (45).
        “They have the height, the power, and the skill to put the ball away,” Bialorucki said. Sam DeVerna has never set for Genoa before but she's really stepped up. She has a lot of volleyball knowledge and she uses it on the court appropriately.”
        On the defensive side, Truman and Bailey are joined by junior Brittney Diekman, who has a knack for digging out potential kills. Truman has a team-leading 43 blocks.
        “She's tiny but mighty. She's fast on her feet and can really read the hitter and ball,” Bialorucki said.
        If you think that is not enough to make the future look bright, a couple freshmen make the outlook even better.
        “Lillian Frias has got the right height and the right attitude. She's got a ton of power and her timing is impeccable,” Bialorucki said. “Lilly Papocchia is currently being trained as a setter/hitter and she's really taken on the ‘quarterback’ role.”
        All in all, it’s a work in progress, says the Genoa coach.
        “We have some great serves and our blocking and defense has really stepped up this year. We strive to be an ‘all-out effort, all-the-time’ team,” Bialorucki said.
        She says the biggest concern her team has to get over is serving and receiving serves.
        “It was a struggle last year and it's a struggle now. We know the fundamentals but we can be a little slow on our feet,” Bialorucki said.
        The only three seniors are Sam DaVerna, defensive specialist Olivia DaVerna and right side hitter Macenzy Haley. Olivia DaVerna has a team-leading 98 digs, followed by MacDonald (81) and Sam DaVerna (65).
        Other juniors contributing are right side hitter Lauren Novotney, settet/defensive specialist Lauren Martin and lone sophomore is right side and outside hitter Marin Butler.


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