SPRINGVILLE – The Springville-Griffith Institute girls junior varsity volleyball team enters the week with a 13 theme. A squad of 13 girls is currently at a record of 13-0. Although junior varsity matches are best-of-three competition, the Griffs have yet to need a third set this season to determine if a win was in jeopardy or not.
Head coach Bob Gainey is reluctant to take any credit for the team’s success, but instead points to the entire S-GI volleyball program, and in particular the preparation that is done at the modified level that he says he benefits from.
Unlike varsity, junior varsity does not have a playoff setup, so an official title won’t be coming the team’s way. Gainey believes his team really hit its stride in late September against Pioneer and since then has become a really tough team for opponents to handle.
Although the coach has a good mix of eight freshmen and five sophomores, he saw their potential way back in August during tryouts.
“I could see how competitive they were in that setting and that there was a lot of ability,” he said. “Points were determined by really great plays on either side, rather than a mistake by one side.”
Two players have really stood out for Gainey thus far this season – Sara Ehlers and Rachel Stressinger.
“[Ehlers has] been fantastic all year long. There’s really nothing on the court she can’t do. She’s an excellent passer and an excellent server and a really strong hitter on the outside for us and she’s been great all season,” Gainey said about one of his top freshmen.
“[Stressinger] has stepped in and has the ability to wear several different hats for us. She can hit outside, set, and be another steady server in the rotation that helps put the pressure on serve and receive on the other end,” the coach added about another strong freshman player.
While Ehlers is generating the most aces from the back line, Gainey says his other two top servers are Stressinger and sophomore Elyssa Hunter.
Interestingly enough, according to Gainey height has little to do with a player’s success at this level but it’s more of a combination of other things.
“At this level, success comes from things like timing and anticipation and the ability to stay focused and engage during a point and timing blocks and swings that have really contributed to an ‘X’ factor for us. We also have some pretty good athleticism across the board.”
The team finished last week with a scrimmage against Ellicottville at the Middle School. A competition that switched between a match and a scrimmage several times, but because teams are only allowed 20 matches per season, Ellicottville was forced to change the match to a scrimmage to not exceed the maximum amount of matches per season.
The team plays almost exclusively at the high school and although the Griffs have won every match after two sets, they play a third as a courtesy.
In addition to Ellers, Stressinger and Hunter, the remaining 10 team members are comprised of seven freshmen and three sophomores. The freshmen are: Melanie Barry, Marie Emerling, Marin Lehr, Meghan Rehrauer, Jacqueline Roggie, Katelyn Mesch and Olivia Schindler, while the sophomores are Ashley Blesy, Ivette Lewandowski and Vaidah Emerling.