GENEVA — The Geneva Eagles had a season to remember on the volleyball court.
They collected 18 wins, won a share of the Chagrin Valley Conference Lake Division title, reached a district semifinal and beat every county school on their schedule by a combined 15-1.
For their success, county coaches selected Geneva coach Annah Haeseler as the 2019 Ashtabula County Volleyball Coach of the Year.
“It is always such an honor to be recognized for work that you have done,” Haeseler said. “We have some great coaches in Ashtabula County, so for them to vote for me and to recognize me, I feel honored. I work with many of the coaches during JO season, so I am lucky to be in the company of such great coaches.”
The Eagles kicked off their with a win over Madison and jumped out to a 4-1 record with three sweeps.
After a loss to South dropped them to 4-2, the Eagles won 11 of their next 12 matches. They stumbled in their rematch with Perry, after winning the first meeting between the two schools that would share the CVC title, but regained their rhythm with a four-game winning streak that led them to a district semifinal.
“This group was something special,” Haeseler said. “The group of seniors have worked extremely hard for the past four-plus years to reach that level of success and the underclassmen that have followed their lead have shown passion and drive to be the best they can be.
“The team has a tight bond and knowledge of each other like no other. They remained positive, kept the work ethic strong and celebrated every small victory. I think this group has taught me to appreciate and celebrate the moment and small victories, because they turn into what great season are made of. Our team's success was built on friendship and hard work.”
Haeseler’s team included 2019 county player of the year Jordan Vencill, first-team all-county selection Morgan Stoltz, second-team member Becca Quirk, honorable mentions Myla Rhodes, Chrissy Oros and Hope Stanley, as well as seniors Erin Korn, Kayla Lindberg and Lauren Wright, juniors Rachel Raymond, Kaylee Caswell and Olivia Wayslaw, and sophomores Kaitlin Minarik and Kennedy Landrus.
“She’s just a great coach,” Vencill said. “She’s like a family member to me, like my other mother. She’s always taking care of us. She loved us seven seniors and the whole team. She put us first and she was always there for us and it’s a great feeling to have a coach like that, just to be there on the court, off the court, in school and everywhere else.”
Haeseler had an interesting way of keeping things loose throughout the year. Prior to Geneva’s sectional final match against Girard, she put together a wiffle ball game for her team.
The Eagles then proceeded to steep Girard in three sets.
“When it comes to tournaments, you have to feel relaxed before going into the game,” Stanley said. “We’re a really goofy team and so she did that just to get us out and playing, so we’re not just sitting in the locker room with music and getting inside our own heads.”
Haeseler, who has won county coach of the year before, said she will remember this year’s team for the relationships and friendships they built, as well as the fun they had on and off the court.
“TThese girls love each other and they love the game,” she said. “They are genuinely excited to get the point, to get the win, to be great for each other. I have never had a group like this and I thank the seniors for setting that example and showing our underclassmen what it means to be a true player of this great game.”
The Eagles will be without a large core of their team next year, but they also have reason to remain optimistic moving forward with Stoltz, Oros, Landrus and Minarik leading the way.
“The future is bright,” Haeseler said. “Morgan brings experience and a fire like no other player I have coached. Chrissy brings leadership and a mature calmness. Kennedy will be a go-to player for us next year, she is smart and will be filling some big shoes. Kaitlin is positive and a naturally talented player, she will be a go to for us as well.These girls have learned from the seniors how to win and how to lead, so the future is bright.”