Lakota West head coach Tracey Kornau (right) sits on the bench during a game in 2011. / Enquirer file
Mike Dyer reports:
Lakota West girls’ volleyball coach Tracey Kornau says she is proud of every one of the players she’s coached over the years.
So in many ways, Kornau’s 400th career win Oct. 18 was a tribute to her teams from Seton, Lakota and Lakota West. Starting in 1997, Kornau served as the first head coach of the Lakota West program.
“I’ve had a lot of great kids walk through those gym doors,” Kornau said. “Coaches don’t win games. Players do. Every single kid who put on a uniform left a mark on our program and on me.”
Lakota West (14-10) defeated Mercy on Monday night in the Division I sectional final and will play Lakota East (18-6) at 4 p.m. Saturday in a district final at East.
Kornau, who lives in Liberty Township, won her milestone match Saturday as the Firebirds defeated Little Miami 3-1 in the sectional semifinal. Kornau had a career record of 400-192 after that match.
As a Seton student, Tracey (Thompson) was the setter for the Saints’ teams who were state runners-up in 1983 and champions in 1984. Thompson went on to play at West Virginia and was captain of the 1988 team.
She was named Seton head coach in 1990 and guided the Saints to a 22-5 record. She was later named the Lakota coach, and in 1994 went 26-1 and won the state title.
Kornau, a physical education teacher at Lakota West, was named the Firebirds coach in 1997 and has led the program to multiple Greater Miami Conference championships.
With (Saturday night’s) 3-1 win over Little Miami in the OHSAA Sectional Tournament, Lakota West Head Coach earned her 400th career win as a Varsity Head Coach (400-192).
Coach Tracey Kornau has the rare distinction of having played on an Ohio Division 1 State Championship team and having coached one.
As a high school student Tracey (Thompson) was the setter for the Seton teams who were state runner-ups in 1983 and state champions in 1984. She was an All-State first team selectee in 1984 and the City Player of the Year. After completing her athletic career with the Seton Saints, where she lettered in basketball and track, as well as volleyball, she was awarded a volleyball athletic grant in aid by West Virginia University.
Thompson played volleyball for four seasons for West Virginia serving as captain of the Mountaineers 1988 team. She graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education/ Physical Education in 1990 having been selected to four all-conference academic awards. At the time of her graduation she held the West Virginia records for most sets in both a season (1251) and a career (3359), marks that still stand as the 2nd and 3rd highest in Mountaineer history.
To let West Chester and Liberty Township residents catch up with the news that they need to know, WestChesterBuzz.com will list and link to all of last week’s top local stories every Monday.
Bengals help Lakota school with aging playground - Cincinnati Bengals defensive lineman Domata Peko, along with six of his teammates, visited Woodland Elementary in Liberty Township last Tuesday to promote being active and good health, as well as to present a check for $10,000 to go towards the school’s mission to build a new playground.
Butler County Sports Hall of Fame announces its 2012 class - A former Lakota West wrestler and the Firebirds’ current volleyball coach are among the 11-person induction class for the Butler County Sports Hall of Fame. Matthew McIntire, who graduated Lakota West in 2002, won two state wrestling championships. Meanwhile, Lakota West head volleyball coach Tracey Kornau has coached the Firebirds since the district split into two high schools.
Jag’s named a top restaurant in Cincinnati by Zagat - Zagat launched its 2013 America’s Top Restaurants guide last Wednesday, which included a top ten list for the Greater Cincinnati area. Locally, West Chester’s Jag’s Steak & Seafood, 5980 West Chester Road, was one of only two Cincinnati restaurants to make the list despite not being located downtown.
Millikin Road in Liberty Township is now open - The Butler County Engineer’s Office reports that Millikin Road in Liberty Township is now open, after being closed between Liberty-Fairfield Road and Ohio 747 since Oct. 1 for a widening project.
Lakota West head coach Tracey Kornau is one of 11 people who will be inducted in the Butler County Sports Hall Fame this month. File photo.
A former Lakota West wrestler and the Firebirds’ current volleyball coach are among the 11-person induction class for the Butler County Sports Hall of Fame.
Matthew McIntire, who graduated Lakota West in 2002, won two state wrestling championships. He also concluded his high school wrestling career by winning the National 140-pound Championship.
En route to the U.S. Championship, McIntire beat four other wrestlers who had won a cumulative ten state championships. His semifinal win came over the four-time Michigan state champion. His loss to McIntire was his first and only defeat in 220 bouts, according to lakotaonline.com.
Furthermore, McIntire won four Greater Miami Conference championships.
Overall, in his high school career, he won 163 matches and lost only six.
Meanwhile, Lakota West head volleyball coach Tracey Kornau has coached the Firebirds since the district split into two high schools. From 1997 to 2012, Kornau has helped guide Lakota West to 263 wins and 136 losses. Also, during that time, Lakota West has won six GMC titles.
Prior to coaching at West, Kornau coached at Lakota High School from 1991 to 1996 – compiling a 102-41 record during that time. In 1994, Koranu’s Thunderbirds won the state championship and finished the year with a 26-1 record.
Overall, in her career, Kornau has won 387 matches and lost 182 in 23 seasons of being a head coach.
The 2012 Butler County Sports Hall of Fame induction banquet and ceremony will take place Sunday, Nov. 25, at the Courtyard by Marriott in Hamilton.
A social hour will kick off the festivities at 5 p.m. Dinner will be served at 6 p.m., which will be followed by Hall of Fame introductions at 7 p.m. Retired Miami University head men’s basketball coach Charlie Coles will serve as the evening’s keynote speaker.
Other members of the 2012 induction class include Frank Chew, Jeff Cothran, Lois Hall Gleason, Robby Huffman, Terry Merz, Bernie Reid, Jeff See, Laura Rullman Weinberger and Rich White.
Almost as if they couldn’t wait, the Lakota East Thunderhawks were on the floor with a minute left before the fourth game of their Division I regional semifinal match against Mount Notre Dame.
That normally wouldn’t be unusual, except most teams aren’t that anxious to take on the undefeated defending state champions – but then, most teams weren’t Lakota East Thursday night at Lebanon High School.
“We didn’t want a delay,” senior outside hitter-setter Ashley Evans said. “We wanted to keep the momentum, because volleyball is such a game of momentum.”
The approach paid off as the Thunderhawks went on to win the fourth game and complete an historic 25-19, 21-25, 25-22, 25-20 win that sent them to the regional finals for the first time in the 16-year history of the program.
“I’m speechless,” said Evans, who led Lakota East with 26 kills. “I’m going to have to slap myself to make sure I’m awake. We’re coming together as a team. We tried to play them like they were any other team. We were the last team to beat them last year and the first team to beat them this year.”
Lakota East advanced to the regional final for the first time in school history after beating Mount Notre Dame, who was 25-0 and ranked No. 6 nationally by MaxPreps, by the score of 25-19, 21-25, 25-22, 25-20 Nov. 1, 2012. Photo by Joseph Fuqua II.
“This is huge,” Thunderhawks’ coach Casie Garland said. “It’s incredible.”
Senior Madeline Garda had 40 digs and classmate Anna Starr finished with 45 assists for Lakota East (24-2), which is scheduled to face Ursuline (20-6) in the regional finals on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Lebanon.
The Lions advanced with a taut 15-25, 25-12, 21-25, 25-22, 15-11 win over Lakota West (20-6) in Thursday’s second match.
The state semifinals are scheduled to be played on Nov. 8 with the finals on Nov. 10, all at Wright State University’s Nutter Center.
Lakota East, the No. 3 team in the Enquirer’s Division I coaches poll and fourth-ranked team in the Division I state coaches association poll, had several motivational cards to play, including a season loss to Mount Notre Dame (25-1), the top-ranked team in both the Enquirer and statewide polls, late in the regular season.
“They served and passed a lot better,” Cougars coach Joe Burke said about the difference in the two matches. “We didn’t have our ‘A’ game. We worked and played hard, but when you don’t give your best effort and the other team is on, it’s hard.”
“We weren’t clicking then,” Garland said. “I’d rather lose in the regular season than in the tournament. We’re jelling and clicking at the right time.’
“It came down to who played defense – and Evans was a game-changer.”
Evans and her teammates also made sure to remember that no Lakota East team had gotten past the regional semifinals.
“We found some old jerseys and wore them around school today,” Evans said. “We called it ‘Throwback Thursday.’”
Ursuline, ranked second in the Enquirer and sixth in the state, lost to Lakota East in the third match of the regular season.
The Firebirds (20-6), ranked third third in the Enquirer and ninth in the state, fell short of their second trip in three year to the regional championship match.
“We played them twice earlier in the season and beat them both times, but I knew it’d be close,” Lions coach Jeni Case said. “It looked like they wanted it more in the beginning, but we picked it up.”
Volleyball – Regional semifinals at Lebanon High School
Lakota East (24-2) def. Mount Notre Dame (25-1) 25-19, 21-25, 25-22, 25-20
Lakota sports fans have the unique opportunity tonight to watch both the Lakota East and Lakota West varsity volleyball programs play in back-to-back regional semifinal games at Lebanon High School. If both Lakota schools win then they will face off in the regional final.
Senior Ashley Evans, who is committed to Purdue, is one of the leaders at Lakota East who has helped the team advance to regional semifinal. If the Thunderhawks win on Thursday, it will be the first time in school history that it will play in the regional final. Photo taken earlier this postseason by Amanda Davidson.
Lakota East (22-2) will have the tough task of trying to defeat unbeaten Mount Notre Dame (25-0) in its regional semifinal match at 6:30 p.m.
Currently, the Cougars are ranked No. 6 nationally by MaxPreps and haven’t lost since Oct. 13, 2011. Ironically, that loss came against Lakota East.
“We know that our game on Thursday against Mount Notre Dame is going to be a battle,” Lakota East head coach Casie Garland said. “They are the strongest team in the state thus far at 25-0 and defending state champions, so it’s definitely not going to be easy.
“However, I do feel our team is fully capable of battling with the best of them.”
Both teams feature a future Big Ten volleyball player. East is led by Purdue commit Ashley Evans, who had 23 kills and 23 digs in the 30-28, 18-25, 25-22, 25-18 win against McAuley in the district final last Saturday. On the other side of the net, MND is led by senior Michelle Strizak, who is committed to Illinois. Strizak led the Girls Greater Cincinnati League with 381 kills.
In the late game Thursday, scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Lakota West (20-5) will take on Ursuline (19-6). It will be the third meeting this fall between the two teams – with the Lions winning the first two: 25-20, 25-17, 25-27, 25-18 and 25-23, 25-21, 25-23.
“Ursuline is a great team,” Lakota West head coach Tracey Kornau said. “They are very well coached, always solid fundamentally and always play great defense.
“It will be a great game.”
Like in the earlier matchup, each team is led by one of the region’s best players. Junior Sam Fry, who had 362 kills this season and has already verbally committed to Notre Dame, leads Ursuline. While, Furman commit Annie Bierman, who led the Greater Miami Conference in kills this fall with 297, leads Lakota West.
Lakota West players celebrate after scoring the match-winning point against Lakota East Sept. 26, 2012. Both Lakota teams are considered among the best in the state and won district titles last Saturday. Photo taken by Joseph Fuqua II
Shannon Russell reports:
Lakota East and Lakota West clinched Division I district girls’ volleyball championships Saturday at Lebanon and punched their tickets to respective regional semifinals.
The Thunderhawks ended McAuley’s first winning season in five years in a 30-28, 18-25, 25-22, 25-18 thriller and clinched a place in Thursday’s 6 p.m. regional semifinal at Lebanon.
By ousting Troy 25-12, 25-14, 25-15 – and snapping the Trojans’ 11-match winning streak – Lakota West secured its place in Thursday’s 7:30 p.m. regional semifinal, also at Lebanon.
McAuley (17-8) didn’t make it easy for Lakota East (23-2) to clinch its second district title in three years, but the Thunderhawks proved resilient after dropping their first game of the postseason.
“We remember how it felt after we lost last year and we didn’t want to that to happen again, so we just pushed through,” said Lakota East senior Ashley Evans, who had 23 kills, 23 digs, two blocks and an ace.
Coach Casie Garland said Lakota East’s solid passing set the tone for a good offensive showing, and McAuley coach Gene Toms agreed.
Toms said the Mohawks had “antsy feet” and struggled to make good, aggressive moves on defense. But rather than emphasize the outcome, he praised McAuley’s nine seniors, including Taylor Bove (12 kills) and Jordyn Thiery (7 kills).
“We’re going to try to celebrate the season instead of focusing on how it ended for us,” Toms said.
Lakota East setter Anna Starr finished with 54 assists, while libero Madeline Garda had 20 digs and Spenser Parks amassed 15 kills.
Then it was Lakota West’s turn. The Firebirds (20-5) won a third straight district title by controlling the tempo and making big plays at key moments.
“We knew we had to come out strong so we just had tons of energy,” outside hitter Annie Bierman said.
Coach Tracey Kornau called the win a complete team effort.
“We spread the ball out pretty evenly,” Kornau said.
Lakota West players celebrate after scoring the match-winning point Wednesday. Enquirer/joseph fuqua II / The Cincinnati Enquirer
Kevin Goheen reports:
Lakota West used superior play at the net to give rival Lakota East its first loss of the volleyball season 25-23, 25-21, 14-25, 26-24 Wednesday night at Lakota East.
An estimated crowd of 1,500 watched as the Nos. 2-3 ranked Division I teams in the area battled for control of the Greater Miami Conference.
Senior outside hitter Mandy Stanislovaitis ended the match with a kill off an attempted block by Lakota East at the net.
“For East-West I don’t have to say a word,” said Lakota West coach Tracey Kornau. “These girls know each other from the neighborhoods, they’ve played against each other and gone to the same camps and clubs since junior high. It was fun.”
Lakota East drops to 11-1. The Thunderhawks are ranked No. 2 in this week’s Enquirer Division I area coaches’ poll and No. 4 in the state coaches’ poll. Lakota West is 12-1 and ranked No. 3 locally and No. 6 in the state.
Lakota West is now 6-0 and alone atop the Greater Miami Conference standings, while Lakota East falls to 5-1 in the conference. Mason is also in the mix for the league title at 5-0.
Lakota West leads the all-time series 11-5, including a tight three-game win in the district final last year.
Senior Rachel Cogan and junior Gabby Blados dominated play at the net in the first two games as Lakota West extended its consecutive game win streak to 28 straight.
The Firebirds rallied from a 15-7 deficit to win the first game 25-23. The score was tied five times after Lakota West caught up to the Thunderhawks, 17-17. Lakota West got its first lead of the match at 22-21 before finishing the game.
Lakota West broke free of an 11-11 tie in the second game with an 8-0 run. Senior outside hitter Annie Bierman had two of her unofficial 12 kills during that stretch. Lakota West answered with a 6-0 run of its own to get within two points, 21-19, but a kill by senior Donna Street stopped that rally.
“I think we connected on critical points that made a difference,” said Cogan. “Our attitude (changed). We had a slow start but our team really bonds well and we pulled each other up.”
Lakota East was led by senior outside hitter Ashley Evans’ 23 kills and 27 digs. Senior right-side hitter Danielle Fleming had 15 kills, while senior outside hitter Carlie Haddad had 12 kills for the Thunderhawks. Senior libero Madeline Garda had 40 digs for Lakota East, while senior setter Anna Starr had 40 assists.
According to the Pulse Journal, Strizak, who is committed to play volleyball at the University of Illinois, had a game-high 16 kills and 28 digs.
“Strizak. She’s one of the best players in the state and she did a great job with them, but it’s also because she has a wonderful cast of players in support,” Lakota West head coach Tracey Kornau told the Pulse Journal.
“They were able to mix things up and free her up. And they don’t have a weak spot in their defense. There’s no chink in their armor that we could try and go after. We tried to frustrate them, but they played very well. We wish them well.”
For Lakota West, the loss ends what has been an impressive run for a team that graduated five standouts last spring in Taylor Anderson, Lexi Dannemiller, Shannon Breen, Liz McMahon and Morgan Jones, who all combined for 18 years of varsity experience.
This season, Lakota West relied on the development of its younger players and the leadership of its two seniors in Mel Stewart (Northern Kentucky University) and Corri Muha (Georgetown College) to win a district title and finish second in the Greater Miami Conference.
Next season, the Firebirds will have another group of strong seniors led by juniors Annie Bierman (265 kills), Mandy Stanislovaitis (241 kills) and Rachel Cogan (183 kills), who all were ranked in the top 10 in the GMC in kills this season.
Sophomore setter Allie Muha, who was third in the GMC in assists with 630, will also return as well as 6-foot-2 sophomore Gabby Blados, who should continue to develop as a player after participating in the sport for the first time last season.