Salem captures district crown
The Quakers knocked off TAC champion Hubbard in three games.
By GREG GULAS
BOARDMAN -- For the 11th straight year the Hubbard Eagles found themselves in familiar territory -- playing for the district volleyball championship.
Having already won the Trumbull Athletic Conference (their 13th league title in the last 14 seasons), coach Chuck Montgomery liked his team's chances of defending their district crown and in the process, hoped to claim a seventh title during his tenure.
The Salem Quakers, however, had different ideas.
Undefeated and champions of their league, the Metro Athletic Conference, it was not uncommon during the season and also in tournament play, for the Quakers to wrap up a match in just three games.
Thursday night at the Boardman Gymnasium, the Eagles witnessed first hand the strength and power of the Quakers, as well as the near flawless setting of Taylor Toothman and the reason why it takes just three games for Salem to finish off an opponent.
Toothman leads way
Toothman had 33 assists and eight points, Katie Scullion added 13 points, 10 kills and two aces and Sarah Brobeck pitched in with eight points, seven kills and four blocks, to lead Salem over the Eagles, 25-14, 25-19 and 25-11 in the Division II championship match.
The Quakers' next stop is the regional at Stow High School next Wednesday.
"We went to the state in 1999 but did not win. I told my wife before the season that we were a good team in 1999, but this year's team is better than the one that went to the state," Quakers coach Don Conser said.
"This team could be the best that I have ever had, but it will take a Herculean effort against whatever team we play in the regionals if we expect to advance. There is no such thing as a bad team once you get to that level of play."
Impressed by Quakers
Montgomery was impressed with the play of the Quakers.
"Salem played extremely well tonight. We didn't exactly play our game, but Salem had something to do with that," he said.
"They are well-coached and very tough to handle. We've played them over the years and it's safe to say that this team is as talented as any group that Coach Conser has ever had."
Six consecutive points by Brittany Gregory broke open a 3-all tie in the first game as the Quakers raced to a 25-14 victory.
Trailing 10-5 in the middle game, Scullion and Brobeck combined for nine of the next 10 points (Scullion had six of those points) to forge a 16-11 Quakers advantage, then never looked back en route to a 25-19 victory and a 2-0 advantage.
Finishing it off
In the final game, Toothman scored the first five points of the game while Scullion and Brobeck each added five points as well for a 15-6 Salem advantage as the Quakers coasted to a 25-11 victory.
"This was the best game that we played all season. We're a well-rounded team and a smart group of players. This was an amazing win tonight for our program," Toothman said.
"The whole team was nervous about this game, most especially me. I had to leave my third period English class today and take a walk because I was so nervous. My teacher was really worried about me," she added.
The Quakers improved to 25-0 while the Eagles ended their season with a 22-4 overall mark.