GENEVA — For Jordan Vencill, her love for volleyball is one thing. The love she has for the people she plays it with is another.
Vencill was one of seven Geneva seniors to play in her final home match Thursday as the Eagles closed out the regular season with a 25-23, 25-12, 25-10 win over Orange in Chagrin Valley Conference action at Geneva High School.
With the win, the Eagles finish the regular season at 19-4, 11-2 in CVC play. They will now await the winner of the Girard-West Geauga match to see who they’ll meet at the Division II, Jefferson District Tournament next Saturday.
For Vencill and the other seniors, though, Thursday’s match was a special time to celebrate not only volleyball, but the friendships they’ve built through playing together.
“It was an emotional night,” Vencill said. “Coming out with my parents and my six best friends, seniors, it was just amazing. All these people and coaches that have been supporting me all these years.”
Another senior, Hope Stanley, said the bond created by playing together goes a lot further than just friendship.
“They’ve created a whole ‘nother family for me,” she said.
Stanley, like Vencill, plays other sports, but said the closeness of the volleyball team is something remarkable.
“We’ve been playing together for so long,” she said. “We’re so close. The seven seniors, we’ve been playing together since seventh grade, and some have been playing together longer than that.”
Playing together not just a few matches per week, but giving up summer mornings to go to the gym and put the work in that will carry over to hours after school each day.
Some of the girls also play junior olympic volleyball. Becca Quirk said it’s a lot of work, but it’s more than worth it.
“We work really hard,” she said. “Over the summer, we have practices everyday from 8 in the morning till 1 in the afternoon. We work so hard in the summer and it pays off during the season.”
For coach Annah Haeseler, the fact that the players enjoy being together helps them to play together.
“They’re just good people,” Haeseler said. “I think because they’re friends first, they just want to be together and that works out for me because I need them to be together. I think if you work on those friendships first, you’re gonna have a good program.”
Against the Lions (3-16, 1-11 CVC), the emotion from the pregame celebration seemed to have a bit of a hangover effect as Geneva found itself down 6-1 to start the first set.
A pair of kills by Vencill sparked a 4-0 run to cut it to 6-5, but Geneva would be plagued by errors and shots going long, allowing the Lions to maintain an advantage until Geneva caught them at 22 apiece.
Lauren Wright’s kill gave them the lead for the first time. Orange would re-tie it, but the Eagles would get the next two points and never looked back.
“I know we were all emotional before the match,” Vencill said. “I think that’s what it was, plus we hadn’t worked in that rotation as much, but we pulled together and played a great match.”
WITH A LITTLE HELP
Geneva entered Thursday’s contest one game behind Perry in the CVC Lake Division. The Pirates fell to Beachwood in five sets, elevating the Eagles into a tie for the conference title.