CUYAHOGA FALLS: Senior Carla Kanieski is back in the Walsh Jesuit volleyball lineup, and coach Andrew Kerr is happy to have her.
Kanieski played on the varsity squad as a freshman and sophomore, but missed last year. Her excuse was valid, though, as she studied abroad as an exchange student in Germany this past school year.
She enjoyed her time away and experienced a different culture, but she is pleased to be back home with her family and friends.
On Thursday night, Kanieski was all smiles after she helped host Walsh defeat rival Archbishop Hoban three sets to none by scores of 25-14, 25-14 and 25-19 in a North Coast League Blue Division match.
“My older brother [Maximilian] was also a foreign exchange student in Germany, so I was following in his footsteps,” Kanieski said.
Kanieski said her mother was born in Germany, and her father was born in the United States. She kept in touch with her loved ones via Facebook and Skype.
“I love having her back,” Walsh senior Kyra Coundourides said. “I miss the girls from last year, but everyone is a good addition to this team. We have a great group of girls this year. I love having my best friend out there with me, but we are all best friends on this team. We all get a long so well. We are like sisters together.”
Walsh (6-2, 1-0) took charge quickly with Coundourides setting and Kanieski, senior Kit McCarty and others making a difference at the net.
“I think we have a pretty good chance to go to state this year,” Kanieski said. “I am really excited to play with this group of girls and see where this season takes us.”
Coundourides finished with 23 assists and two blocks. Junior Carolyn Bauer added 18 digs, McCarty had eight kills and junior Caitlin Cianciolo had two service aces. Kanieski, junior Amanda Ferrence and senior Molly Gilligan had two blocks apiece.
“A win against Hoban is a great thing no matter what sport you are playing, but it is especially exciting here in the Dome,” Walsh coach Andrew Kerr said. “The best thing was this was a team win. The lineup changed every set. We went out there and played hard.”
Seniors Cassidy Gawlik, Maddie Gaugler and Kenna Gabor also made an impact with junior Christine Morgan and sophomore Sarah Boodjeh.
Hoban (2-2, 0-2) built a 10-4 lead in the third set, but was unable to hold the advantage. Walsh scored the next eight points and never trailed again.
“We just stayed positive and had a lot of energy as a team,” Coundourides said. “Coach Kerr took the timeout and encouraged us to play better in the third set. We knew in our heads, that ‘Hey, we’ve got to relax. We got this. We can do it.’ ”
Senior Olivia Dujanovic (13 assists), junior Alex Hall (eight kills) and sophomore Dominica Allio (six digs) paced the Knights.
“I liked the resiliency of the third set, coming back and being in the game after losing 14 and 14,” Hoban coach Corey Verchio said. “We are getting better. We played [Mentor] Lake Catholic a lot tighter on Tuesday than we did last year and we played Walsh a lot tighter tonight than we did last year.
‘‘We are a young team with only three seniors [Dujanovic, Marianne Dannemiller and Gabrielle O’Neill]. We are very inexperienced. This was a loud gym, first time this year we have played in a really loud gym. I think that affected some of the kids.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.