Brock Netter, Contributor
SOUTH WEBSTER — Since Faith Maloney first stepped onto a volleyball court for South Webster, it was obvious she was a different type of talent.
She has the “it” factor.
Watch her play and it’s crystal clear to see. She’s also a major reason why the Jeeps have an 58-16 overall record with No. 12 on the court.
Every year she’s played, she’s led her team in kills, aces and blocks, while being second or third in digs. But there’s always room for improvement, tangibly and intangibly.
“This year, during practices and games, I tried to really focus on consistency,” Maloney said. “Whether it be in hitting, blocking, passing, or serving, I wanted to be consistent enough to where my team knew they could depend on me if we were stuck. I also tried to be a better teammate this year by encouraging or helping anyone when they needed it.”
The 5-foot-11 junior finished the season with 327 kills, 163 digs, 96 blocks and 74 aces as the Jeeps reached the Elite Eight this season. That’s why Maloney is SOSA’s co-Volleyball Player of the Year.
“Honestly, I think what made this season special wasn’t that we made some pretty big accomplishments in our tournament run and in the SOC II, but just the amount of fun we had during the season,” Maloney said. “I’ve never been on a team that genuinely gets along as well as we did. Our team chemistry was incredible, and there was never a game or practice where we weren’t having fun. I think one of the main reasons our team got as far as we did was because we enjoyed being around and playing together so much, and that’s a pretty special thing to have.”
Maloney has racked up awards and honors throughout the past month, ranging from SOC II Player of the Year, District 14 Player of the Year and All-Ohio status.
But you’ll never hear her saying anything about those. Not because she isn’t proud or honored to be recognized, but because she values her team accomplishments much more.
After losing just one player from a team that made it to a regional semifinal and lost five games in 2019, it was easy to see this team was going to be a force.
And they wasted no time out of the gates, defeating Wheelersburg for the first time since 2013, a game in which Maloney had 24 kills and four aces. That set the tone for the rest of the season.
The Jeeps went on to carve a path of destruction until falling to the Pirates in a rematch. They won a share of the SOC II for the first time since 2008.
Then came the tournament run, where the Jeeps just bulldozed through Division IV district play, not dropping a single set and winning back-to-back district titles. After taking down Shadyside in four sets in a regional semifinal, SW pushed Newark Catholic to the limit in the Elite Eight. But a couple of miscues at the wrong time ended the season.
“We haven’t won the SOC in a long time, and this is only the second time we have reached the regional final for volleyball in school history, so that is pretty awesome,” Maloney said. “I am very proud of how well our team did this season.”
That regional final loss is motivation. It showed the Jeeps are capable of playing on the big stage. And South Webster is completely reloaded for a run at a state championship in 2021 with nine of its 12 players returning next season … led by Maloney.
“I would really like to improve on my passing and defense because those are areas where I struggle a little more, as well as continuing to work on my consistency,” Maloney said. “Just knowing that we had such a solid team for the past two years, to be able to reach the regional level is an incredible feeling. But making it one step closer to state was one of the best feelings we had all year. Although it didn’t turn out the way we had hoped for, it just shows us that we are capable of bringing home a state trophy for our school.”