A year ago, Amanda Medvetz was a freshman trying to become a starter on the Cleveland State volleyball team.
Now the Elyria High product is a permanent fixture in the rotation as the Vikings’ defensive specialist. After starting just four times last year, she’s been in the starting lineup for 22 of 23 matches this season.
“The game definitely picked up its pace,” Medvetz said. “The game is probably 10 times faster than high school. I was a hitter in high school and I’m a DS (defensive specialist) here at Cleveland State. The transition wasn’t too bad. The speed of the game was the major difference.
“The first couple games, I was like, ‘Wow. This is going to take some time to adjust.’ You just have to be quicker, a lot quicker reacting to the ball rather than having a couple seconds to wait for the ball.”
Medvetz didn’t let those differences deter her from putting in the time and effort to earn a spot on the court.
“She’s solidified herself as a starter and she’s someone that we look to to make big plays,” said Vikings coach Chuck Voss, who’s in his 11th season at CSU. “Sometimes people, coaches and fans don’t necessarily think of defensive players as being that big-play person, but she’s capable of making that big play for us with her defensive abilities.
“She was a typical freshman when she was here last year with some growing pains and the speed of the ball defensively in serve-receive, trying to pass the ball. That’s usually what trips up those defensive players. Slowly through last year, she picked it up and I’d say by the end of last spring, she was solidly a starter for us. She’s really just picked up from there and continues to improve.”
Physical adjustments to the Division I game were not the only changes Medvetz needed. As with just about all freshmen, the mental game needed some fine-tuning, as well.
“Amanda’s a really good athlete, very quick, very good instincts,” Voss said. “She’s really helped stabilize our backcourt. She’s as good a defender as we have on our team in the defensive backcourt. As far as her passing goes, she’s really improved in that area, especially her mental game.”
Medvetz has played in 81 of a possible 85 sets and is third on the team with 182 defensive digs. She is also among the team leaders in serve-receive, posting a .976 percentage with six errors in 249 chances going into this weekend’s home matches against Loyola and Valparaiso.
“It feels good because coming in and playing Division I, it’s kind of exciting to finally have that role to where I’m a starter and not just pushing the starters in front of me,” Medvetz said. “It’s almost a relief, but you still have to keep working hard because you have great players behind you.
“They want that spot as well, like I was last year. … Last year, you’re almost the underdog, but this year, as long as I stay consistent and keep my confidence up, I should be OK.”
Cleveland State ends the regular season with a trip to Horizon League power Butler on Saturday. The Vikings are 19-4 overall and 9-3 in Horizon League play, which puts them third in the standings.
“We have to keep playing as a team,” Medvetz said. “We can’t rely on one player. We all have to bring our ‘A’ game and if someone’s down, we have to pick them up because it’s a team game. I think we’re playing great together. Our chemistry’s good. The main thing is, we all get along. There’s no conflict on the court, so that’s definitely helping.
“We can’t slack on anyone because everyone’s out to get us. They all want to beat Cleveland State, so they’re all going to play their best games against us, which is good because then, we know we’re going to have a good game every match.”
News and notes
Cleveland State senior defensive specialist Meghan Mental (Olmsted Falls) has 34 defensive digs and seven set assists for the Vikings this fall.
- Ohio Northern junior men’s soccer player Christian Huelsman (Wellington) recently earned Ohio Athletic Conference Player of the Week honors for his performances in a 7-0 win over Otterbein and a 1-1 tie with Baldwin-Wallace. Huelsman scored two goals against the Cardinals and leads the Polar Bears with 29 points on 10 goals and nine assists. He earned the OAC Men’s Soccer Player of the Week for the second time this season and fourth time in his career and helped the Polar Bears (15-4-1, 7-1-1 OAC) earn the right to host another OAC Tournament.
- Fellow Wellington alums Mark Mazzone and Greg Stawicki joined Huelsman on Ohio Northern’s soccer team. Stawicki, a junior forward, has made 13 starts in 20 games and has two goals with four assists. Mazzone, a senior defender, has two goals and three helpers this season.
Sophomore forward Rachael Melendez (Firelands) has been making her mark for the Butler University women’s soccer team, which finished the regular season 8-10-0 and 6-2-0 in Horizon League play. Melendez started 17 games and is second on the team in scoring with three goals and three assists. She is tied for second with nine points and also has a game-winner. Melendez, a three-time All-Lorain County selection, had one goal and an assist as a freshman.
- College of Wooster junior right middle hitter Sarah Hawke (Elyria) and freshman middle hitter Zoe Zwegat (Elyria Catholic) led the Fighting Scots to an 18-13 record with a 9-5 mark in North Coast Athletic Conference play. Hawke has 199 kills and 71 blocks, while Zwegat has 122 kills and a team-leading 97 blocks.
- Despite a lack of victories, junior right middle hitter Kari Kincannon (Keystone) is having a solid season for the Notre Dame College volleyball team. Kincannon is one of the Falcons’ top hitters with 186 kills and 30 blocks.
- Junior outside hitter/defensive specialist Lauren Turner (Amherst) has 70 kills and the second-most set assists on the team in addition to 190 defensive digs, while freshman defensive specialist Brittany Perrott (Elyria) has 72 digs in 31 sets through Tuesday’s 3-0 win over Urbana.
Contact Matt Florjancic at 329-7135 or email@example.com.