BY JEREMY SCHNEIDER | MIRROR SPORTS — Coming off a second straight Division II district championship, the Maumee volleyball team entered another season with a big bullseye on its back. The Panthers got the 2021 season started on the right foot, beating Wauseon 3-0.
Maumee, which is working in a new lineup after the graduation of Northern Lakes League player of the year Brynn Brown, won 25-15, 25-13, 25-15 to simultaneously start a new era of Panthers volleyball and continue its tradition of excellence and winning.
Among the team’s goals this year is to take care of their business and do their thing, although the real goals might take on some more colorful language.
“You can call it a rebuilding year, but it’s really not with a core group coming back,” Panthers coach Lindsay Vannett said. “For them to come out and put together everything we’ve focused on during the week and get this win done in three … I’m proud of our girls. It goes to the work they’ve put in in practice to step into some big shoes.”
Senior Jolie Sobb had 13 kills to pace the Panthers (1-0), adding 16 digs and one block to her line. Fellow senior Jessica Roper had four kills, nine digs and a block
Juniors Katelyn Owens and Camy Wedge stepped up, with Owens totaling seven kills, two blocks and three digs, and Wedge leading the team with 22 assists and 10 digs.
“All of our kids improved in the offseason,” Vannett said. “Kate and Camy … everyone grows every year, and I can’t be prouder of the work they’ve put into the sport and put into the goals they have for the next two years. They are really coming into their own as independent people, and they’re taking ownership and kicking (butt) really.”
The Panthers got key contributions from a trio of juniors — Avery Lewis and Evelynn Schneider each had two total blocks, and Autumn Miller had 10 digs.
With the contributions of returning varsity starters and the emergence of newcomers, Vannett believes her squad can catch some teams off-guard this year.
“Especially with some of the shifts that have happened around the league and who teams have lost,” she said. “When you have a core group back that knows what it takes to win, knows what it takes to get to that next level, they’re going to push the others that are stepping into some of those roles that we have to fill. They’ve been doing it day in and day out at practice.
“Our philosophy is, next man up. That’s been our philosophy for the last two or three seasons, and we have kids stepping up.”
Next up for the Panthers is a Tuesday night home match against Lake. Varsity is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m.