FAIRFIELD TWP. — It’s not hard for Carly Arington to see the competitive grit being put forth by her Cincinnati Christian Schools girls volleyball team.
The Cougars have been playing at their best since the 2015 season.
“They’re taking advantage of this moment,” the fourth-year CCS coach said. “They know that this is their opportunity. I think they’ve continued to find a lot of encouragement and motivation through working hard and getting to this point.”
No. 1 seed Cincinnati Christian (18-7) has won six in a row and eight of its last nine, including a 3-0 Division IV district semifinal victory over Ripley on Wednesday at Miami Valley Christian Academy.
The Cougars take on Jackson Center in a district final on Saturday at 5 p.m. at Troy.
“We’re just trying to go all out every single day — knowing that this is the opportunity to seize it,” Arington said. “These girls care about the volleyball side, but they’re wanting to walk away with more of an impact on their teammates here and now.”
Cincinnati Christian has reached the district finals for a third year in a row — losing to Russia in 2022 and Fort Loramie in 2021. The Cougars have had at least 16 victories with a winning record in each of the four seasons under Arington, who is 67-34 at the helm.
“This is my first team that I’m graduating, so it’s been nice to really get to know the players these last four years,” Arington said. “I think we’ve kind of gotten the lay of the land on what the season looks like and what competitiveness our conference brings in our division specifically.
“We’re not stopping here. We just have to continue to rise to the occasion — even though we are a small D-IV school,” Arington added. “I think the girls have really taken hold of the expectations that we have if we want to be successful. They’ve started to put the team first and their competitive drive for what we do for practices and games.”
Seniors Katie and Jenny Bertram and junior outside hitter Lauren Uffman lead the way for the Cougars.
Katie Bertram, a defensive specialist, is tops in the Miami Valley Conference with 311 digs, while Uffman sits in fourth with 230 digs and fifth with 156 kills. Jenny Bertram, a setter, paces CCS in aces (86) and assists (264).
Defensive specialist Abby Marcum and outside hitter Jolie Percy round out the seniors on a 12-player roster that’s competing at full strength. Percy has the highest hitting percentage as a middle on the team at .250 and is currently top 11 in kills in the conference with 124.
Other contributors for the Cougars are junior Kylee Arther (S, RS), sophomores Serena Cyprien (MB), Anna Kate Young (DS, OH), Anna Bowling (DS, S) and Lydia Vogelgesang (DS, OH), and freshmen Addy Raby (MB) and Maddy Jones (OH).
“We’re thankfully healthy right now,” Arington said. “The last few weeks, this is where we test our preparation and all of our goals. Just having all of us healthy and ready to compete is a huge asset.
“We’re a really well-rounded team. We’ve got players ready to step in at any time. We’ve tried a bunch of different lineups. We’re set with what we’ve got. So we’re really excited to go in with all the preparation we’ve got heading into this Saturday.”