Season review: Ravenswood Devilette volleyball season ends with 17-25 mark
Chris Michael has been at it a long time in the circles of coaching.
For him to say the 2021 volleyball campaign was one the “toughest” of his 29-year career speaks volumes.
“We started out 6-3 and then I got COVID,” Michael said. “As soon as I recovered from that, I got a stomach bug. We lost out on three weeks of play and normal practices. It was a severe disruption to the season.”
When he returned, Michael tinkered with a lineup experience. The Devilettes fell in 10 of 11 matches.
Tough times indeed.
The head coach, his staff and most importantly the players didn’t give up, though it would have been easy to do so.
“I thought the team was at the breaking point,” Michael said. “We had a team talk after a practice following the 1-10 stretch.
“I focused on what was ahead of us. We talked about not giving in despite the adversities we had been through.”
The emphasis was on improving each day and making short-term goals.
Michael wanted to see his team get a chance for advancement in postseason play.
“The last thing I focused on was how open our section was this year. I reminded them that our record going into the postseason wouldn’t matter,” he said. “The teams playing their best volleyball in November would be the two teams advancing.”
Ravenswood figured out what rotation worked best and found a groove.
Then, disaster struck again. Illness and injury crept into the season from a personnel standpoint.
“We kept pushing on,” Michael said. “It was truly mentally challenging for all of us.”
In the end, the Devilettes advanced from sectional competition to regional play and was one match win away from earning a trip to the state tournament.
While Buffalo ended that dream of Ravenswood joining the Class A field of eight inside the Charleston Coliseum, the Devilette leader couldn’t be more proud of his team’s comeback.
“The adversities that we went through were many and on-going,” said the veteran coach. “It just didn't seem real at times. We had to overcome so much. For this team to go through what it did and not give up was pretty amazing. I felt we played our best volleyball of the season at the end and I would imagine that our close followers would agree.
“Advancing out of the loser's bracket in our sectional to get a shot at a regional was great for our kids.”
Ravenswood eliminated defending state champ Wirt County to meet No. 4 Gilmer in the sectional championship.
He felt Ravenswood gave Gilmer all it wanted in two of three sets.
As the sectional runner-up, Ravenswood still had a shot at making the state tournament by moving on to the regional with a meeting against Buffalo.
“The atmosphere was electric. The gym was packed. Both teams brought it. We had our chances,” Michael said.
Buffalo prevailed in straight sets, 27-25, 25-21 and 25-13.
“It was our best performance of the season. I am happy that our seniors got to experience that level of excitement and that our underclass players got to go through that, because I truly think the future of Devilette volleyball is bright.”
Macey Casto was the top scorer for Ravenswood with 538 points. Abby Scitchfield had 484 points and Lindsey Carroll added 405.
Scritchfield was the leading blocker with 61. Brooklyn Adams had 40. Lilly Hopper had 20.
Casto had 108 aces, which ranked as fifth-best performance for a single season in Devilette volleyball history. Scritchfield had 87.
Braylin Tabor had 1,177 sets on target and was the team's leading server.
Casto was the leading spiker with 685 and Carroll was the top passer.
“If our young players can stay hungry, injury free, continue to improve, and develop chemistry with our incoming freshmen class, this program could very well see multiple trips to Charleston over the next several seasons,” said Michael.
“With a little luck, you might even see Ravenswood in a state final sometime soon.”
Ravenswood’s last trip to the state tournament was 2010.
“Our coaches, players and fans are more than ready for a trip back to Charleston.”