HUDSON — She has a high-pitched voice that exudes conviviality.
However, it may not be wise to consider the extremely affable Cailynn Sullivan a softie when she takes the volleyball court.
The high-flying Hudson right-side hitter just might tear your heart out.
Cuyahoga Falls learned that lesson the hard way Tuesday as the host Explorers cruised to a 25-19, 25-12, 25-17 victory over their winless Suburban League National Conference rival. The match took place Tuesday at Ray “Buck” Hyser Gymnasium.
Sullivan finished with seven kills and two blocks against the feisty Black Tigers, who had a knack for throwing off Hudson with their pesky defense.
“They’ve always been really, really scrappy,” Sullivan said of Falls. “I think the problem with them is, we take them too lightly sometimes. They don’t have as many wins in the conference, but they’re super crafty. It’s always about being on your toes, especially with crafty teams like that.”
When things got a bit out of hand, the senior three-year starter had to send a rather terse message to her teammates: This is not acceptable.
Well, terse may be a bit of an exaggeration. Rumor has it the engaging Sullivan relayed this message in a calm, friendly manner.
“We mostly talked about having to pick up our energy because we were taking them so lightly,” Sullivan said. “It’s OK to relax, but no matter what team we’re playing, we always have to stay on our game.”
Sullivan has needed to alter her game a bit this fall. The former middle hitter is getting used to life on the outside.
The main reason for the switch has been the Explorers’ depth, which has been more of a weapon than it had been in recent years.
“It’s not bad,” Sullivan said. “I like the adjustment. To be honest, I like the amount of touches I get. It’s pretty cool.”
Her coach certainly agrees. His message to his dynamic leaper has been rather straightforward: Do more with less.
“Cailynn played really well,” Hudson head coach Brad Disandis said. “She can make some spectacular plays. When she controls the ball with controlled, aggressive swings, she puts pressure on them even when she’s not swinging very hard. I’m really happy with the way she played.”
Since the Explorers have a number of youngsters on the squad, Sullivan has taken it upon herself to be more assertive.
It’s a safe bet her teammates enjoy hearing their delightful senior’s voice.
“I always try my best to give people advice and try to tell somebody if they’re in the wrong spot,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan certainly hasn’t been in the “wrong spot” much this season. Despite the switch, Sullivan continues to be her usual productive self as an enforcer at the net.
“She gives us such a great option on that side of the net,” Disandis said. “She’s such a strong attacker and a good blocker. You have to sacrifice to do that for the betterment of the team. It has actually helped our team to have another strong right-side hitter besides Brooke [Ramlow] when we run the 6-2 offense.”
Thus far, Hudson has made some strides against a formidable slate of conference powerhouses. The Explorers (4-3, 3-2) recently topped former state champion Brecksville-Broadview Heights and also swept former nemesis North Royalton.
The best may be yet to come. A certain likable teenager certainly thinks so.
“I am so excited for this season,” Sullivan said. “Everybody is so talented. From the freshmen to the seniors, everybody can put a ball away whenever. Everyone can dig a ball whenever. It’s absolutely amazing.”
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, email@example.com or @FrankAceto_RPC.