By Ty Bartell
With plenty of fresh faces all around, The Austintown-Fitch Falcons volleyball team opened their season on Tuesday at home in a matchup with Hathaway Brown from Shaker Heights. Starting from the top, The Falcons are sporting a new head coach this year in Kylee Herberger, looking to continue success with the program, while taking it to new heights. While the team looks a little bit different this year, most notably, the former YSN MVP Jocelyn Jourdan graduating in 2022 and taking her talents to Youngstown State University.
However, some things change and some stay the same. One part of the Fitch volleyball program that has stayed its course is the setter position with the sensational sophomore in Rylie Simons. Racking up a plethora of assists in 2022, she looks to continue her string of success with having a chance to eclipse the 1000 assist mark in just her second year at the varsity level. Simons was influential in helping Fitch grab the first set in convincing fashion 25-14.
The Hathaway Brown Blazers battled in the following two sets, but the love was spread out amongst the offense, making it an all out attack from Fitch and giving Simons multiple options to go to. Jordan Smith has quickly become one of those primary options, after working hard and learning from the players that came before her, Smith has now become one of the most reliable threats for Austintown. While Afton Roby provides plenty of talented height up the middle as a skilled blocker and surprise surprise, Kylie Folkwein is really good at sports as she has taken over as a dangerous outsider hitter for her sophomore season. Despite battling, the offensive flexibility was too much for The Blazers, as The Falcons took set two by a score of 25-20.
With momentum firmly in the court of Austintown, Coach Herberger had her team keep the foot on the gas and keep a similar pace heading into set three. While you need offense to win, you cannot do it without defense and for Falcon defensive specialist, Izzy DirRenzo she had an impact on the match in recording 19 digs total and thwarting a lot of swings from The Blazers. A similar game plan and a similar result, with Fitch taking the set 25-19 and the match in straight sets 3-0.
Fitch (1-0) will now have a premier matchup on Thursday, August 24th where they will host Lakeview (3-0) for a 7 p.m. first serve. While Hathaway Brown (1-2) will travel to Twinsburg (0-0) also on Thursday. Kylie Folkwein led the team in kills with 13 and aces with 5, while Jordan Smith had 11 kills of her own. Afton Roby had 3 blocks and 7 kills of her own while Rylie Simons inches closer to her 1000th assist, notching 31 in the match and 5 kills on