There was no drama or awkwardness when Kristen Mummey and Celia Cristofoli met each other for the first time in the summer of 2012.
Instead, there was an instant bond that continues to today as Hudson makes its first state volleyball semifinal appearance in a Division I match with Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame at 2 p.m. at the Nutter Center on the campus of Wright State University.
Mummey and Cristofoli are seniors on a Hudson team that defeated Jackson and Wadsworth for a regional championship, Kent Roosevelt and Walsh Jesuit for a district title and Nordonia for a sectional crown on its path to Dayton.
“I am really proud of every single person on our team for stepping up,” Mummey said. “I am having the time of my life.”
Neither Mummey nor Cristofoli, who are each 17, were born in Ohio.
Mummey was born in Minneapolis and lived there and in Madison, Wis., briefly before her family moved to Hudson when she was 2½ years old.
Cristofoli was born in Louisville, Ky., and lived there briefly. Her family moved to Greenwood, Ind., when she was a child and then relocated to Hudson before her junior year of high school.
“It was like an instant friendship,” Cristofoli said. “Right from the start of team camp in the summer [of 2012], we were friends.”
Mummey recalls meeting Cristofoli for the first time and said: “Ever since that day we have pretty much been best friends.”
Mummey, who is a 6-foot-3 College of Charleston recruit, has 185 kills and 62 blocks this season. Cristofoli, who is 5-9, has added 123 kills and 226 digs.
Jordan Mackay, a 6-1 junior, has contributed 179 kills and 45 blocks. Sophomore setter Amanda Przybocki has 331 assists, and junior Sarah Young has totaled 275 service receptions and 223 digs.
Coach Jessica Ciborek and assistant Annie Pinegar took over the Hudson program three years ago and posted records of 13-11, 19-8 and 21-6 heading into this weekend.
“Annie and I are really proud of how the girls are playing,” Ciborek said. “They are playing as a team. They are a resilient group of kids. It is pretty awesome to see them peaking at the exact right time.
“Team chemistry is important on any team, and these girls all get along. They trust each other and they know each other’s role on the court.”
Senior Georgia Lindner and juniors Gina Holland and Allison Rense also contribute with sophomores Maddie Przybocki and Olivia Baumhoer and freshman Alena Madar.
“I am so excited to go to state with these girls,” Cristofoli said. “I wouldn’t want to do it with any other team. I am so lucky that I moved here and get to play with this group. These girls all welcomed me with open arms when I got here before my junior year. I was lucky to know someone going into the first day of school. They were all eager to help me transition into being a student at Hudson and became my friends quickly.”
Mummey, Cristofoli and Mackay are tri-captains and powerful hitters at the net.
“I am trying to look at the other side of the court and see where the holes are,” Mummey said of her approach to spiking. “I know that every time I get set up I need to translate that into a point for our team when I can.
“I get so excited for any big play that we make. I always get excited every time my teammates or I slam the ball down hard. It is awesome and gives us momentum.”
Mummey and Cristofoli also credit their coaches for helping them improve.
“Jess and Annie have brought the program a long way,” Mummey said. “My sophomore year we took on a team motto of ‘Building success.’ We have great coaches who are relentless at pushing us to be successful.”
Ciborek and Pinegar consistently mentor their players on the many aspects of volleyball.
“Jess and Annie have brought experience and a high level of competitiveness to our team,” Cristofoli said. “They give us an edge with their knowledge of volleyball.”
Ciborek grew up in Fairview Park and graduated from Rocky River Magnificat (2003) and Seton Hall University (2007 bachelor’s degree in biology and 2010 doctorate in physical therapy). She played volleyball at both levels as a libero.
“I no longer play volleyball competitively,” said Ciborek, who is married with a newborn child and is a physical therapist at Akron Children’s Hospital in the sports rehabilitation department. “I am coaching and loving it. I can never really give up the sport totally. This is how I stay involved in the game.”
Columbus St. Francis DeSales and Toledo St. Ursula Academy will meet in the other Division I state semifinal at noon today. The championship is at 11 a.m. Saturday.
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.