FRANKLIN — The Eaton Eagle volleyball team added a sectional title to its list of accomplishments for the 2015 season after defeating Bellbrook in four sets on Saturday, Oct. 24, at Bishop Fenwick High School.
The SWBL co-champion Eagles defeated fellow co-champion Bellbrook for the second time in as many weeks to win the sectional title — Eaton’s first in more than a decade.
“I told them beforehand, go validate it,” head coach Parker Fields said, challenging his team to end any doubts of the shared title. “Go get an undeniable, bonafide, nobody-can-question-it league title.”
The Eagles did more than validate the title as they were able to win in four sets, 25-18, 15-25, 25-21, and 25-19, behind 14 kills from Julia Titus.
Titus had plenty of help from her teammates as Emma McKinney assisted 37 times, Meghan Puckett had nine kills and four blocks while Jackie McCafferty lead the Eagles with 18 digs.
Eaton defeated Bellbrook on Thursday, Oct. 15, to share a league title with the only SWBL team to defeat the Eagles all season.
Eaton however took the rubber match with Bellbrook to continue its season and tournament run and will now have chance to add a district title to an already remarkable season.
Fields said going into the match he wasn’t sure how his team would react after such an emotional win against a team he called “one of the most respected programs and coaches in the state.”
Luckily for Fields, his team, which has eight seniors, is finding motivation from each other. “I haven’t had anyone ask me about individual stats or honors this year,” he said after the game. “They are playing for each other — we have eight seniors who’ve been together a long time, the experience you garner with them is irreplaceable.”
Fields also has a group who works hard: of the 15 players who have seen varsity action this season, every single one plays volleyball in the offseason.
“For you to have a successful program your girls have to play in the off season,” Fields said, but he knows it takes more than that. “You also have to gel together and you have to chemistry — the girls I have are serious about playing the sport, they are serious about winning ballgames, they are serious about continuing this run.”
The path to the sectional final wasn’t easy for the Eagles who also defeated Alter in the second round of the tournament on Tuesday, Oct. 20.
The Eagles won in four sets, 25-19, 25-22, 23-25 and 25-20, led by McCafferty’s 26 digs.
McKinney had 38 assists, Titus had 13 kills and 11 digs, Allison Collins had 10 kills, and Brandi Sittloh had 17 digs and four aces.
The fourth-seeded Alter had not lost a sectional game since 1999, winning 15 straight sectional titles until the Eagles ended the run with a four set victory on Tuesday.
“It’s the mystique, you have to be able to get over the mystique with a program like that,” Fields said about Alter, a program that has seen several state titles in its history.
The wins are the 21st and 22nd of the season for Eaton (22-3), who now prepares to take on Cincinnati Archbishop McNicholas for a district championship on Saturday, Oct. 31, at 4:30 p.m., at Fairmont High School’s Trent Arena.
“That was just our girls trying to win the match,” Bellbrook coach Lynzee Johnson said. “You give so much effort that you’re going overboard. I think that’s where our errors came from…. It was a battle. I wish it could’ve gone to a fifth game, because we could’ve given them a real run for their money. But Eaton is a great team, they have some great players. I’m just glad that someone from our league made it out of sectionals. That’s a positive.
“Eaton has a new fan the rest of the way.”
Fields knows his team will have to play and believes they are capable of playing better volleyball at the end of the season. “The good thing about this team, is I still feel our best match is yet to be played. I still feel we have better matches to play,” he said.
“We are really excited about the draw and the possibilities,” Fields said about his team’s chances to continue the season. “But we still have to win matches to move on so right now its one match at a time. When you get to the tournament you have to take it one game at time, if not it comes back to haunt you.”
Fields however thinks his group is ready. “These girls are ready for the challenge.”
The reason why Fields believes: his team is playing harder than anyone else.
“We haven’t played the cleanest volleyball in the tournament,” he said. “But we’ve played the hardest and sometimes that outweighs playing flawless, skilled volleyball.”
Reach Austin Schmidt at 937-683-4062
or on Twitter at aschmidt_RH