VERSAILLES – Once again Versailles has overcome the loss of an immense amount of talent to advance deep into the Ohio High School Athletic Association volleyball tournament, which the Tigers attribute to a tradition of excellence in their program.
For a third consecutive season Versailles has advanced to the OHSAA regional tournament, leaving the Tigers as one of 16 teams left across the state in the Division III playoffs. They’ve accomplished the feat despite losing five seniors from last year’s state semifinalist squad.
“It’s the girls,” Versailles coach Karla Frilling said. “I can’t take the credit for it. We just plug them into the right places, and they do all the hard work. They’ve built a tradition; we’ve built a tradition together, I should say. And they’re the ones that are carrying it on.”
Senior Kristin Langston said Frilling deserves a lot of credit, too.
“We have a great program and a great coach that knows exactly what to do to get us to where we want to be,” Langston said.
Whatever the reasons, Versailles has shown the ability to continue excelling regardless of how much talent it loses to graduation.
Led by a group of six seniors, Versailles won the 2013 Division III state volleyball championship. The following year the Tigers were able to overcome the loss of those six seniors to return to the state final four in Columbus.
This season Versailles had to replace five seniors from that 2014 final four team but once again finds itself just two wins away from a third consecutive trip to state.
“It’s exciting because we’ve been there the last two years,” senior Lauren Monnin said. “You want to show your fans that every year you can continue the tradition.”
Standing in Versailles’ way as it looks to continue advancing in this year’s tournament is Newark Catholic, another team that is steeped in tradition. The Green Wave made it to the state final four the past two years just like Versailles. They have made it to state 19 times overall and have eight state championships in program history, which is tied with Cincinnati St. Ursula Academy for the most in OHSAA history.
“They’ve got some solid hitters, a well-rounded defense,” Frilling said. “They’re deep in their tradition, as well, as being a successful volleyball team.”
While the Tigers know Newark Catholic will be a formidable opponent, they’re choosing to focus on themselves instead of the Green Wave, who are ranked sixth in the Ohio High School Volleyball Coaches Association Division III state rankings.
“We know they have a few good hitters,” Langston said. “They have pretty high stats from what we saw, but we’re just going to really focus on us and see what we can do on our side.”
Versailles is confident about its abilities as it enters the regional tournament because the Tigers have been tested throughout the season.
Six of Versailles’ Midwest Athletic Conference rivals – Coldwater, Marion Local, Minster, New Bremen, New Knoxville and St. Henry – finished in the top 20 of the OHSVCA state rankings. New Knoxville and St. Henry remain in the OHSAA tournament with Versailles while the other seven MAC teams have been eliminated from postseason play – all by fellow MAC teams.
But it’s not just conference play that has tested Versailles. The Tigers played teams such as Jackson Center, Fort Loramie and Monroeville – all of whom are state-ranked – in non-conference play.
“I think anybody around here would testify that just our league is brutal, but we’re very proud and honored to be from this area because it gets us tournament ready, and we’re very fortunate for that,” Frilling said. “We also picked up some non-league teams this year that pushed us just as hard. I think our all-around schedule always gets us this deep into tournament. It definitely pays off. So it may not be a good looking record, but it’s the postseason that really counts is what they say.”
Versailles has excelled in postseason play the past several years, and this year’s seniors are glad to keep the tradition going.
“It’s really exciting to be back there (in the regional tournament) three years in a row,” Langston said. “I think nobody really expected us with such a young team to get back to where we were so we’re really proud of our accomplishments.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.