HLHF Volleyball 2018: A great ride, no matter the end
Saturday’s loss by Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family in the Class D-1 volleyball state championship match closed a special season that will almost certainly be remembered fondly by those involved and everyone fortunate to have witnessed it.
Only a Fremont Bergan team that had lost just 10 sets all season could halt a Bulldog run to a title. Along the way, HLHF received contributions from players at every level of development and built a reputation for being one of the scrappiest teams anywhere in the state.
Understandably then, though it wasn’t the result she had hoped for, coach Cami Oelsligle had nothing but praise for her group Saturday afternoon after the final match of the year.
“We beat some great teams. We had a great run. We were one of the only undefeated teams for a long time. The girls grew immensely,” Oelsligle said. “We had freshmen that, they’re big and we knew they’re athletic, but now they’re playing great volleyball.
“Everybody’s grown, and they’ve come together as a team. I don’t want to look ahead to next season just yet, but basketball season is coming, and I look for them to have a bright future there also.”
Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family qualified for the girls D-1 state basketball tournament a year ago with essentially the same group of players, minus three seniors from the Class of 2018.
It was the first time in program history the Bulldogs advanced as far as state. But of course, volleyball was fresh on the mind Saturday afternoon at the Devaney Center.
The run to the state title match was just the second time HLHF had been to state and the first time it won a game after dropping a five-set match to West Point Guardian Angels Catholic in 2013.
The 2018 group started 16-0 before finally dropping a match on Sept. 29 to Class C-1 opponent David City Aquinas.
The Monarchs spent a few weeks in the C-1 ratings this season – one of 10 teams the Bulldogs faced from the Lincoln Journal Star Top 10.
HLHF went 9-3 in those matches including sweeping the season series with C-2 Clarkson/Leigh 3-0, defeating D-2 Chambers-Wheeler Central twice and taking down Diller-Odell and Johson-Brock at the state tournament.
Leading the way were a group of seniors that included Taya Beller, Allanah Beller, Yasmine Bender, Danie Brandl and Jessica Olmer.
Taya Beller racked up over 350 kills, over 100 total blocks, 63 kills, 46 aces and 463 digs. Brandl also had over 100 kills to go with 25 aces and 164 digs.
Olmer blocked a total of 47 shots and put together 243 digs. Bender had 97 digs and 83 digs.
“Taya Beller leaves a huge legacy, obviously, but the way Danie Brandl played, Jessica Olmer stepped up, Allana Beller didn’t play a whole lot, but she’s always willing to do anything in practice for us and Yasmine Bender did a great job, too,” Oelsligle said. “They’re a great group of seniors. Most of them are my captains because they lead in different ways. Taya Beller’s going to leave a big legacy, but the others are going to be remembered as well.”
And while that five move on to the next stage in life, the cupboard is anything but bare. The junior class includes starting setter Allie Schneider, libero Brittney Veik and defensive specialist Brooklyn Magsamen.
Sophomore Kenna Roelle was a regular back row player and freshman Addison Schneider developed into a dependable middle hitter.
Plus, there are names Oelsligle says Bulldog fans don’t even know yet who will become regulars very quickly.
“It might be a rebuilding year, but we might be back in the same position. There’s girls waiting in every position,” she said. “There’s girls that are hot on the tails of the ones on the court, and I know we’ve got a good eighth-grade class coming up, too. I look for us to be successful in the coming years as well.”
What will be tough to match was the bond this group forged together over nearly three months together.
The winning and the competition was fun, but Oelsligle said she’ll probably remember the personality of the group more so than any particular win or any particular moment.
“These girls are just a bunch of goofy girls and just fun people to be around. That’s probably going to stick out,” she said.
“The girls are just so fun. Those are the memories that are going to stick around the most.”
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org