BY J. PATRICK EAKEN | MIRROR SPORTS — Behind Maumee volleyball’s 16-11 season and run to the Division II regional semifinals were three seniors – Maddie Kontak, Kylie Miller and Brynn Brown.
“They are all so special to our team and especially to me,” Maumee coach Lindsay Vannett said.
“I have been their coach for six years, with being their middle school basketball coach as well. Those three have had such different paths to their senior year and to see them come together and put it all out there was an amazing experience to watch unfold.”
Brynn Brown has been a first-team All-NLL and District 7 choice every season during her high school career, and this year was no exception.
As a senior, Brynn is the Northern Lakes League and District 7 Player of the Year. She will play volleyball next year at NCAA Division I Marshall University.
“That is big for her,” Vannett said. “That was her goal all along, playing college somewhere, and she got that last summer when she committed. That is huge for her and I am glad to somewhat be a part of it.”
Brynn, a third-team All-Ohioan, has compiled numerous awards during her prep career, including most recently being named an AVCA High School all-region honoree for Region 5.
She is one of only two players from Northwest Ohio to receive that distinction, plus she is a district all-academic awardee. Vannett said she can rotate to any position on the court.
Brynn chose Marshall because “I love how it is a college town and Marshall is the heart of the town. It is a beautiful campus and Marshall has all of the majors that I am interested in.
“I just fell in love with the campus, the team and the culture they have there. I think over the years they have been getting better and better each year and they are trying to rebuild their culture right now, but they are rebuilding it and that will set us up for a successful career.”
Marshall coach Ari Aganus said, “Brynn is going to instantly raise the level of play in our gym.
“She is one of the most dynamic setters I’ve recruited, having the full package of setting, defense and attacking. Her work ethic on top of her talent will be an instant impact for our 2021 season.”
Brynn finished her prep career with 1,570 assists, 1,307 digs and 1,081 kills.
“Brynn is just an amazing, special player that I have had the pleasure to work with. Her skill set is one that you don’t see on players, and with all her awards she has received, she has undoubtedly earned them,” Vannett said.
“She was a leader both on and off the court, and the girls respected her hard work and matched it in practice.”
Brynn believes she was only a part of Maumee’s success this year.
“I think we just worked well as a team. We worked hard every day in practice and that translated onto the court,” she said.
One of three seniors, Brynn took her leadership role seriously, too.
“I like being a leader. It’s always nice,” she said.
“I don’t want to brag, but I have a lot of knowledge about volleyball, so the fact the girls on the team respected me enough to listen to me and take in some of the pointers I tried to give was a good feeling.”
The other two seniors on Maumee’s roster also took that roles seriously.
“I really tried to be a leader on the team. One of the main things I would do was try and pick up the team with the energy I have,” said Kylie Miller.
“As I have learned before, when someone was down, I would try to pick them up. When we were kind of in a rut, we would try and get the team back together and just lead everyone to success,” Kylie added.
Kylie, who was second-team all-district and a district all-academic awardee, became the team’s starting libero this season.
“Kylie was not our libero on our team last year. She had been a full six rotation player, playing front row and back row,” Vannett said.
“She was a defensive player for us last year and had to step into a significant defensive roll in a very tough NLL. She worked hard and had her best season to date,” Vannett continued.
“She led all defensive players with assists that weren’t a setter and was the sixth-best defensive player in the league, with Brynn and (Maumee junior and second-team All-NLL selection) Jolie Sobb being two of the five ahead of her.
“That right there is why our team found success. Our back row was just as strong as our offense.”
Maddie Kontak, who hails from an athletic family that includes her older brother Mitchell, a state qualifying golfer and former basketball player at Maumee, was the outside hitter again this year, but her role expanded even further.
Maddie was honorable-mention All-District 7 and an all-district academic awardee.
“Maddie was our outside hitter last year and did not play back row. That was a goal for her for this season, to become a six rotation outside hitter and she definitely achieved that,” Vannett said.
“She worked hard all summer and preseason, and she earned everything she got. Her best games were played at the end of the season when we wanted our team to peak.
“She was a consistent player who we looked to, to keep a steady hand on the floor. She was the level head that held us together at the beginning of the district final game when the game got tight.”
Vannett said the seniors will be missed next year.
In addition to Sobb, juniors on the team included Josie Vargo, Macey Pilcher and Jessica Roper, and varsity sophomores were Camy Wedge, Autumn Miller, Katelyn Owens, Avery Lewis and Danielle Schriner.
“We have a lot coming back, too, but they have big shoes to fill,” Vannett said. “They are rotation players and a lot of our offense and defense, but they’ll be all right.”