Work ethic, new coach to lead Nordonia girls volleyball

Knights look to build off history 2019 season

ROGER GORDON Correspondent
Nordonia's Mya Sopata goes for a kill against Twinsburg during a game last season.

“Hard work is not a punishment.”

Those were the words of first-year Nordonia head volleyball coach Tim Vasko.

“We work extremely hard,” he said. “Our goal is to get better every day we walk into the gym.”

Vasko served as Nordonia’s varsity assistant under Lori Snider the past two years. He also was an assistant coach at Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, Akron Archbishop Hoban and Stow-Munroe Falls in recent years.

He takes over a Knights team that finished 21-4 overall and 13-1 and co-champions with Wadsworth in the Suburban League National Conference last year. Nordonia lost to Solon 16-14 in the fifth set in a Division I district final.

Leading the way for Nordonia this season will be senior outside hitter Joy Banks, who broke the school’s season kills record in 2019.

“Joy’s talent is out of this world,” said Vasko. “She can jump very high and has a very high volleyball IQ. She’s ranked as the 96th best senior in the country. She plays all the way around, has a great serve and is an extremely athletic girl.”

Junior middle hitter/outside hitter Mya Sopata will also be a key cog to the fortunes of the Knights.

“Mya has a vertical jump out of the gym. She also has a high volleyball IQ,” Vasko said. “She has a lot of power behind her swing. She’s a positive, positive player. Her and Joy’s work ethics are unbelievable. Every time they show up in the gym, they try to outwork each other. That’s what makes them better.”

Four other seniors who look to be major contributors are middle hitter Aleana Mason, right-side hitter Faith Sparks, setter Riley Monroe and libero/defensive specialist Carina Collica.

“Aleana is an all-around outstanding player. She puts up a big block, and she has a good swing,” said the coach. “Faith has an incredible serve.

“Riley can run a fast offense. She makes the right decisions. She’s a smart player and has a great serve. She runs the floor for us, is the quarterback of our offense. Carina is an awesome player. She reads the ball very well and makes sure that we’re all in the right spots at all times. She’s an extremely positive player, too.”

Another player who will see a lot of action is junior setter/right-side hitter Megan Buckenmeyer.

“Megan is a good player and can put up a big block for us. She has a strong arm,” Vasko said.

Other team members are juniors Celine Cuscian, Ella Gorta, Katelyn Kellermann and Irelynn Lavelle.

Vasko’s assistant coach is Erick Sopata.

Vasko and his team’s goals this season remain extremely ambitious.

“Obviously, we want to win the conference again and make it to districts and win districts,” Vasko said. “We try to win every set we go out there and play. We’re in a great frame of mind.

Joy, Mya and Aleana are going to take the team a long way.”

Nordonia is scheduled to open the season at Mentor Tuesday. Nordonia will play at Copley Thursday at 6:30 p.m. before playing a tri-meet at Hathaway Brown with Jackson Saturday at 10 a.m.

Nordonia’s home and National Conference opener will be Sept. 1 at 6:30 p.m. vs. Hudson.