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Waynedale Bears’ historic run continues – Sports – The Daily Record – Wooster, OH

BARBERTON — The Waynedale volleyball team’s historic postseason run continues.

In the program’s first regional tournament appearance, the Golden Bears knocked out Berkshire in a four-set Division III regional semifinal match at Barberton High School Thursday to reach the Elite Eight of the OHSAA Division III volleyball tournament.

After earning a 25-21, 22-25, 25-18, 26-24 victory over the Badgers, Waynedale, now 23-3 overall, advances to the Barberton Regional final Saturday at 2 p.m. against Independence, which beat Salem 3-0 in Thursday’s other semifinal.

“Elite Eight … we’re one of the top eight teams in the state. It’s almost surreal, it’s just so surreal to be where we are right now and have kind of just a dream come true,” said Waynedale coach Jodi Shilling. “We’re just riding through it and just enjoying the ride right now.

“They’ve never played in a gym this big. To see them handle the pressure of a gym like this — and a lot of them are young. I don’t have a lot of seniors and a lot of them are young, very young. And to have them handle the pressure like this, I was very impressed with them today with what they could do.”

In Game 4, the Badgers were poised to force the match to a fifth set with a seven-point lead (21-16) over the Bears. But Waynedale went on an 8-2 run to tie the game 23-23 and then take its first lead of the game, 24-23.

Berkshire’s Delaney Tucek finished for a kill to even the score again. The Bears gained the lead and the serve again after an out-of-bounds Berkshire attack on the following play. Lyndsey Troyer (team-high 19 assists, nine points, two aces) then went to the backcourt line and served an ace to capture point, set and match.

“We’ve always been finishers,” said Shilling. “And we were down in Game 4 about seven points. We just again said we need to limit our mistakes and let them make some mistakes.”

“I can’t even explain it,” said Waynedale sophomore Sara Ice, who collected 14 kills and 16 digs in the semifinal, about the fourth-set comeback. “I mean all of our emotions were up and it was just — I wanted to win so bad — and when we finally did it was the biggest accomplishment ever.

“It was just incredible. Just point by point we pushed and that’s what we did, we’ve always done that, so I’m glad we did it.”

Berkshire jumped out to a 6-1 lead in Game 1. Its leading attacker, senior outside hitter Madison Chapman (team-leading 17 kills, 22 digs, three aces), was dangerous when she got the right set, but the Bears were able to limit her options.

“We got them out of system a lot so they couldn’t set the hitter that they wanted to set as much as they wanted to set her,” said Shilling. “So that was one of our big goals, too. It’s always our goal to get people out of system because they can’t set to people and I think we made that difficult for them today.”

Brooklyn Troyer (14 assists, 15 digs, 10 points, one ace) helped the Bears take off on a late surge in Game 1, serving balls that the Badgers struggled to serve-receive and return for any big attacks. Libero Brooklyn Riebe tallied 12 points serving for the Bears. 

In the second set, neither team could gain more than a two-point lead over the other until Waynedale went on a 5-0 run that included an ace from Lori Troyer (team-high 14 points, two aces) and three kills in a row from three different Golden Bears as Madison Rowe, Kelsey Wolfe and Brooklyn Troyer each put one away to open up a 21-18 lead. But the Badgers won Game 2 by countering with a 6-1 run to even the match.

Waynedale was most dominant in Game 3, holding the Badgers to their lowest score. With the set tied 10-10, the Bears dialed in for an 8-1 run and seven-point lead that they maintained until the end.

“Waynedale was a great team. They had great offense and they used it,” said Berkshire coach Joni Prots, whose team ended with a 16-10 record. “I felt like we did not use our offense like we have all year. And the story of our season has been mistakes that we make that are unforced and that unfortunately came back a little bit today and caught us a few times.

“I just always felt like we were always trying to catch up and instead of being able to get ahead. But Waynedale played a great game.”

Rowe, who finished with a team-high 18 kills and added 14 digs, called the match “intense the whole time.”

“It was never at a point where you could give up, you had to be pushing the whole time,” she said. “I think we just had to believe in ourselves and believe we could do it all the way through because this is the first time in Waynedale history this has ever happened and we want to keep going.”

Waynedale warmed up in gray T-shirts emblazoned with “JODI” in pink lettering in support of Shilling, who is battling cancer. The Bears’ motivation throughout the postseason has been centered on their head coach. 

“Obviously we know Coach has been battling some hard times, but we thought it would be a good idea to show that we’re here for her and the support we have for her, so we got the shirts just in honor of her,” said Ice. “We have so much hope for her just for her not to give up and we’re always here for her, so it’s just a little reminder for her.”

“This team is phenomenal. We all love each other, we’re family. And our coach really brings us together. We’re doing it for our coach. We’re doing it for Jodi,” said Rowe. “We always say, ‘Do it for coach.’ And that’s basically what described this whole match is we did it for coach. Like in the last game, all that we said is, ‘Do it for coach. Coach points, one by one, do it for coach’ — it’s all for coach.”

TICKET INFO — Presale tickets for Saturday’s regional final will be on sale at Waynedale High’s main office from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday. 

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