Throughout the season, very few teams forced Buckeye Central to four games, but Colonel Crawford and Wynford were two of them. Here's a look at what Eagles' coach Amber Christy and Royals' coach Tim Baumberger feel have been keys to the Buckettes 25-2 path to the state tournament.
* What is it that makes Buckeye Central so successful?
Christy: "BC, every one of their girls, almost every one plays club ball. When you play year round like that it really helps a lot. Club ball is huge. Another thing is BC has such a strong tradition of having good volleyball programs. One thing that I do see with the girls on that team is they are very team-oriented. Even at Friday night football games they always sit together, because my son plays football at BC. They always sit at the games together. If you see one, there are two or three others with them. They are just a very group-oriented team and a close knit group."
Baumberger: "Buckeye Central is successful largely because of the tradition that has been established through the years, beginning with Nancy Ackerman and running now through Bill Bonham. The girls at Buckeye have bought into the tradition and expectations. They have sisters and aunts and even parents that have played on successful Buckeye teams in the past and they truly buy into the notion that it is their responsibility to carry on the tradition. They put in all of the work necessary to do that, because to do anything else would be to let the program down, to let the tradition down. You have to respect a program that has reached that level. I think you see it in a few other programs in this area: Colonel Crawford in softball, Wynford in basketball and more recently in football. Buckeye Central's kids are dedicated to the off season through high quality club training and work."
* What makes Buckeye Central such a difficult team to defend?
Christy: "I think their two outsides are two of the premier outsides around. They play all the way around. They pass, they hit, they serve and they never come off the court. The leadership that they have. They win as a unit. I think all the girls are solid players and they play for each other. They don't play for individuals."
Baumberger: "I think Buckeye is hard to defend in part because they can be diverse. Ye, Maddie Williams and Sammi Marcum are their go-to hitters, but if you saw the regionals, Jenna Delarber was a difference maker for them. Kendra Schultz has played well at the end of the year and I felt really made a difference in our second match when we were able to dictate a little bit in Game 3 and get momentum. She really stepped up in Game 4. I think their serving game is particularly hard to defend. Often times, the best defense in volleyball is a good offense, but it is hard to have a great offense when you struggle to receive the aggressive serves from Buckeye. "
* How much does it mean to the local volleyball community, Crawford County and the North Central Conference to be represented by Buckeye Central at the state tournament?
Christy: "For any of us that are represented in districts, it's usually whoever gets out of our district makes it to state, and it is just good for the community. It's nice from the smaller home town areas that can produce athletes that can play at that level. I'm pretty proud of my girls being one of the only teams that took BC to four games and Norwalk St. Paul to four Games. It's nice knowing if we get beat that it was against high caliber programs. You never want to get beat, but if you do, you want to see that teams that beat you have success."
Baumberger: "We were able to play with more aggressiveness in Game 3 in our match that went four. We gained some momentum in game two and then were able to take that out and attack them in Game 3. You cannot play passive against Buckeye and expect to win. I think so often you get caught up in the mystique of BC volleyball and your girls' minds are already in passive mode before the first serve. I felt we were ready to play them twice this year. We were loose in practice and in warmups, but as soon as that first whistle blew we tightened up. You have to first be confident in yourself. BC will come at you from so many angles. They are like sharks in the water. Once they smell blood it is a feeding frenzy. You can not be mental and have success. You have to play the game and you can not be out hustled ever. I think our girls gained confidence that they could play with the best going into the tournament. As a coaching staff we already knew that, but to get the girls to buy into that is another thing. As BC continued to have success, that fed our girls. We have been cheering for Buckeye along the way as they showed us great support when we played our districts there. It is only good for the league and the area to have volleyball programs that play at that level. We not only have BC in the Final Four, but also Norwalk from our coaches district in the Final Four, and Huron, Wynford, and Mohawk that went deep into the tournament also. All three of those teams had legitimate shots at Final Four appearances. This area is rich in volleyball history and it is headlined by Buckeye Central and the Subich-era at Crestview and Madison. Volleyball is played as well in north central Ohio as it is anywhere in the state."