West can't clamp down on Clapper, fall short of title
than 500 make trip to Dayton to cheer on their super seniors
By Zachary Dzurick
Published Nov. 17, 2004
West seniors Stephanie Herhuth and Helen Stewart attempt to
block a Newark Catholic spike during the Div. III state championship
game on Saturday in Dayton.
it could not be done.
There have been
105 volleyball state champions in the history of the OHSAA tournament's
30 years. Only three times has a team from Greater Cleveland won,
and never in Div. III since the move to four divisions 15 years
ago. No team from Cuyahoga County has even made the Div. III final
game since Fairview in 1994.
Add to the fact
that Lutheran West only had seven varsity players. While junior
Laura Maurath played a huge role in practice and at key moments
during the regular season, the playoff run has seen the same six
seniors - Karla Everhart, Nicole Feher, Stephanie Herhuth, Bethany
Kastner, Jessica Moses and Helen Stewart - on the court together
for every moment of the regional and state tournaments.
for most of the first game, the Lady Longhorns rallied behind Helen
Stewart's serving to take the last eight points of the game and
For a moment,
Lutheran West seemed destined to win the first team state championship
in school history. However, it was not to be as Newark Catholic
added to its rich history and won its state-record eighth state
championship by winning the next three games, 25-21, 25-19, 25-16.
the Lady Longhorns had answered every challenge as they steamrolled
to a 28-0 record. Before the state finals, West had an amazing 78-5
edge in games.
coach Stephanie Flaherty was understandably emotional when she spoke
about her seniors. She struggled to contain her emotions when she
spoke of what her team has meant to her.
"They are a
real special group of kids," Flaherty said. "Jess and Karla have
played for me for four years. Helen for three. They are very special.
They are dynamic kids. They are very Christian. They are very hard-working.
I love them. This was a special experience because those six played
all season long, and we are where we are right now because of their
phenomenal playing ability. It has a been great year."
In Game 1, Newark
Catholic junior Sarah Clapper had five errors and just three kills.
In the last three games, however, the Green Wave was able to run
their offense through Clapper, and she responded with a game-high
25 kills. She added a team-high eight blocks. The Lady Longhorns
were just not able to slow Clapper down.
"They are definitely
going to feed her every ball," Flaherty said. "If you shut her down,
you will shut them down, and we didn't do that."
their best match of the season the previous night against Orrville,
the No. 1-ranked team in the state, Lutheran West may have tried
too hard on the state's biggest stage.
"We didn't play
our game tonight," Flaherty said. "One thing we needed to do was
pass well, and we didn't do that. I think we really pressed. I think
I had a lot of girls try to step up tonight and press way too hard.
I don't think we played Lutheran West volleyball like we ave all
season, and we still hung with that team and that says a lot for
it too much. I saw some frustration in them tonight that I have
not seen all year. They were looking for perfection and I think
if they had let up a little and not gone for the perfect pass or
perfect dig, they would have been all right. But they pressed for
credit to Newark Catholic.
"They did have
their A-game tonight," Flaherty said. "They brought it and we just
weren't quite where we needed to be."
point of the match was the second game. Lutheran West had rallied
from an early deficit to take its first lead at 11-9. Clap er appeared
to enter the net but no call was made and the Green Wave regained
control of the game. The Lady Longhorns kept battling and after
a Feher ace closed to 22-21.
the next play, Stewart was called for a controversial lift.
Instead of being
tied and having the serve, Norwalk Catholic was ahead, 23- and served
out to win. It was that close to being a 2-0 lead for the Lady Longhorns.
However, the Green Wave grabbed the momentum and rode it the rest
of the way as they controlled Games 3 and 4.
needs to blow off bad calls," Flaherty said. "We let it bother us.
I don't blame them for feeling that. way, but all season we have
done a good job shrugging that off."