LUCAS — It’s not Shelby Grover’s athleticism that sets the Lucas senior apart.
What distinguishes Grover from her peers is her work ethic, at least as far as Lucas volleyball coach Paige Sauder is concerned.
The two-time area Player of the Year, Grover led Lucas to its first sectional championship since 2013. The Cubs fell to Seneca East in the Division IV district semifinals.
“Having a senior like Shelby Grover, she battled until the last point,” Grover said after the loss. “She plays every point in practice and a game like it’s her last. Every athlete needs to do that.”
The ultra-athletic Grover was selected to the All-Ohio third team in Division IV. She is a three-sport All-Ohioan (basketball, track) and a Division I track prospect.
Grover was selected the Mid-Buckeye Conference Player of the Year, leading the conference in kills (406), blocks (57) and digs (415).
Grover’s reputation as one of the state’s premier hitters preceded her.
“I can’t tell you the level of respect we have for the Grover girl,” Seneca East coach Greg Hendrix said after the Tigers beat the Cubs in the district semifinals. “Our game plan was to stay the heck away from her … That was the entire game plan.”
Grover is joined on the all-area team by three other All-Ohioans:
Ella Payne, Galion: A senior setter, Payne ranked second in Ohio with 1,011 assists. Payne helped the Tigers to a share of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference crown and a berth in the Division III Elite Eight. Galion fell to eventual state runner-up Coldwater in the regional finals. Payne was selected to the All-Ohio first team in Division III, north central Ohio’s lone first-teamer.
Ava Brown, Lexington: A freshman, Brown helped Lady Lex to a runner-up finish in the Ohio Cardinal Conference and a berth in the Division II district semifinals. Brown led the OCC with a .384 hitting percentage and ranked second in the conference with 330 kills and 67 blocks. The right-side hitter was a third-team All-Ohioan in Division II.
Rylee Ritzhaupt, Colonel Crawford: An athletic 5-foot-9 senior outside hitter, Ritzhaupt ranked third in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference with 345 kills and was fourth in the conference with a .331 hitting percentage. Her 410 digs ranked fifth in the league. The Eagles tied for second ion the N10 and reached the Division III district semifinals before falling to eventual regional runner-up Galion. She was an All-Ohio honorable-mention selection in Division III.
Emma Valentine, Ashland: The Ohio Cardinal Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Valentine led the conference with 509 digs and ranked in the top 10 with 40 aces. The junior was a District 6 first-team selection in Division I.
Hailey Young, Galion: The Tigers won a share of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference crown and reached the Elite Eight thanks in no small part to Young. The 6-foot junior middle hitter had 227 kills and ranked second in the MOAC with a .333 hitting percentage. Young was a MOAC first-team pick and a District 6 second-teamer in Division III.