Since the Norwalk volleyball team was edged in five games in a Division II district championship by Mansfield Madison in 2011, people inside and outside the program openly talked about a possible run at the state championship in 2012.
Talk is cheap, but if Thursday’s state semifinal pasting of Kettering Alter is any indication, a year's worth of hype has been justified.
Saturday, the team will go for the program’s first-ever state volleyball championship and just the second team state championship in school history (football, 1974).
Norwalk (27-2), No. 4 in the final state coaches poll, faces No. 17 Cleveland Heights Beaumont (21-7) at 11 a.m. Saturday for the championship at Wright State University’s Nutter Center.
“This is what we expected and what we’ve wanted all year,” Norwalk coach Angie Kalizewski said. “I think to them, it’s more of ‘it’s about time.’ All the hard work from start to finish for many years, it’s finally their time to shine."
Thursday's 25-12, 25-15, 25-18 sweep looked like a school field trip more than a state semifinal match, as the domination led to an anti-climactic ending.
Norwalk senior Kelli Weininger said everything Thursday almost seemed routine.
“It’s exciting and it hasn’t really sunk in yet that we're playing for a state title,” Weininger said. “It feels like it is just another match, but I think once Saturday comes around, we'll get the nerves back and feel more excited.”
Kalizewski said her team has learned how to handle nerves by now, and that Thursday was all business by design.
“I would say that is definitely the way it felt, but you have to look at it like that to some degree,” she said. “You want to get your job done and do it well and that’s exactly what we did. You never know how people are going to play."
Read more in Friday's Sandusky Register and Norwalk Reflector.