Since Gilmour has been in Division II since 2016, they have been put into the highly competitive North Coast League. “Playing harder teams will help us be competitive in the postseason,” said Kenzie O’Connor (’19), one of the team captains.
Emily Wainwright (`19) is in her second year on the Varsity team. Comparing last year’s regular season competition to this year’s new league, she said there is a remarkable difference. “It’s really a battle every night because the teams are a lot closer to our skill level. Playing in the North Coast League keeps us energized. We’re challenged to play our best every night. I know we’re a better team because we face off with some of the best in Ohio.”
Jocelyn Carter is a sophomore who transferred from Andrews Osbourne Academy. This is her first year with the Varsity team. She said, “The new league Gilmour plays is more intense and includes several Division I teams like Walsh and Padua. We played close matches with Padua, and they are ranked #2 in the state.”
Coach Dan Coughlin has been Gilmour’s head volleyball coach for six years now, with this being his third year as head coach. This fall, the Gilmour Lancers Volleyball team is making headway into Division II competition. The team’s last championship in 2015 against Division III competition presented Gilmour as a powerhouse.
Megan Brzozowski (`19) was a starting setter as a freshman. She and her sister Julia, a junior at the time, were with the team on their Championship run in 2015. Brzozowski said, “After watching my two older sisters compete at the tournament to become Runner Up multiple times, it was great to finally win the state tournament for our community and family.”
According to an OHSAA rule called “competitive balance,” Gilmour was moved up to Division II, because of their greater point value. Coach Coughlin explained, “Each player that comes into your school on your roster has a number value. The total value determines what division you end up in. This ends up evening out the playing field for all fall sports.”
On a 15-player roster, the numbers range from 0-2, with 0 meaning that the player came from Gilmour’s Middle or Lower School. If the player came from the school district (in this case, Mayfield’s school district), then that player would be a 1. Outside the school district from anywhere else in the state of Ohio makes that player a 2. OHSAA will look at a team’s roster, add the numbers up, then add that number to the amount of players on the roster. The higher the number value, the higher the division, and vice versa.
There is no point value for anyone from out of state, because, another OHSAA rule restricts schools from recruiting players from out of state. The volleyball team does not have any out-of-state players. However, Gilmour’s Prep hockey team can recruit, only because the Prep team is not a part of OHSAA state competition and tournaments.
Competitive balance was almost shut down with schools in Cincinnati making a case. The city’s case for removing the competitive balance was that the public schools are closely grouped together and they’re as small as Gilmour. The reason the case was shut down is that Cincinnati is a powerhouse of a city, especially in volleyball in many divisions. So with Cincinnati’s dominance in some divisions, the coaches of Ohio high schools voted ‘no’ on removing competitive balance.
Gilmour’s move to Division II was mainly because there’s few to no players coming from the Middle School. Gilmour is independent and must take players from the district or out of the district. This causes the number value of the team to shoot up. But, Gilmour has been doing well with that high number value.
While point value determines the division, it does not affect league placement. Choice is key. Being new to the North Coast League, Gilmour is facing teams such as Walsh, NDCL, Lake Catholic, Beaumont, VASJ, and Hoban. These teams are a part of the North Coast League in Division II, which is the most dominant group of teams in Division II. Coach Coughlin stated that the most dominant four teams in the league include NDCL, Beaumont, Gilmour, and Lake Catholic. Playing these teams on the regular means better longer games, as well as intense regional tournaments.
Being in Division III years back, the team would schedule games against Division I and II competition such as Magnificat and Toledo St. Ursuline. These scheduled games helped the team improve for the playoffs, as well as show off their dominance. But the team faced Division I and II competition only in the regular season, and then returned to Division III for the playoffs. This year, the Division II team hopes its North Coast League experience will give them an edge for another title run.
In their second year on the Varsity team, Emmy Klika (’21) and Ava Nestor (’21) are prepared to compete. Playoffs begin next week. Their first game is October 18 and will be against either Cleveland Central Catholic or Saint Martin De Porres.
Klika and Nestor said together, “Let’s go!”