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Willard standout athlete Wiers closing strong

Mark Hazelwood • Dec 5, 2018 at 9:00 PM

WILLARD — On the surface, it may sound odd.

But the idea that crossed Willard volleyball coach Ashley Bond’s mind spoke to the talents of senior hitter Lydia Wiers.

“If she wouldn't have gotten hurt to begin the season, we would have probably used her as one of our setters this year,” Bond said. “Because Lydia’s athleticism and intelligence (currently ranked No. 1 in her graduating class) is that off the charts.”

After leading Willard to its best season in 33 years, Wiers signed her national letter of intent with Division I Towson University on Nov. 16. But before she graduates, Wiers still has other things in play.

She is one of the top players for the Crimson Flashes (4-0) on the basketball court, and narrowly missed reaching state on a relay team in track and field.

“I’m just having fun with the seniors and the rest of the team,” Wiers said after Willard’s 54-24 win at Norwalk on Tuesday. “This will be the last time I get to play sports with some of them, and I’m going to enjoy it.”

About 10 miles north of downtown Baltimore, Towson is one of the largest public universities in Maryland. So how does such a school end up on the radar of a Willard native?

"I play club with the Cleveland Volleyball Company, and my coach (Kelsey Polak) actually previously played at Towson,” Wiers said. “Both of my coaches knew the assistant coach I was recruited by really well, and I had also went to a camp there and had a great experience.”

Members of the the Colonial Athletic Association, Towson was 17-15 last season and played a schedule that included Miami (Fla.), Arizona State, Ohio State and Missouri.

Wiers said she has known for years that she wanted to attend college outside of Ohio.

"Just for some new things and new experiences,” she said. “I think it will be good, I'm really excited — and I'm sure there will be family visiting often.”

Things are good now, but the school year didn’t start out very well for Wiers. A broken tibia (shinbone) caused her to miss much of the preseason and the first four matches of the season for Willard, which struggled to a 1-3 start in her absence.

"At first I didn't process that I would be out for those games and how it would affect me,” Wiers said. “It was really difficult. But I think knowing my team was out there and giving it their all ... we knew we would improve and that is what we'd have to do.

“It was fun to watch them play and encourage them,” she added. “I just wanted to help in any way I could. But to end the way we did was pretty special. We had so much fun.”

Once Wiers got back on the court, the Crimson Flashes took off. Willard reached a Div. II regional championship match, falling in three competitive games in a sweep to eventual state champion Parma Heights Holy Name.

“She was our spark plug this year and even led the team from the bench when she was injured,” Bond said. “Her love for the game shows when she plays, and her enthusiasm is contagious. She is one of the most humble kids you'll ever meet.

“Lydia made her teammates better with her constant encouragement and that, along with her humbleness, is what I appreciated the most about having her in our program,” Bond added.

In 23 matches, Wiers finished with 390 kills and 105 blocks for the Flashes (19-8). She had 404 kills as a junior and finished with 1,257 kills and 357 blocks in her career. 

Wiers was All-SBC Bay Division first team, and was selected to the All-Ohio third team.

But as Bond noted, the two tournament trophies almost never happened, had it not been for Wiers.

“The success we had this year was a direct reflection of the leadership we got out of Lydia and our seniors,” Bond said. “She basically put us on her back and willed us to win our sectional game (down 2-0) vs. Lexington, or we wouldn't have been able to make the tournament run that we did.

“Lydia definitely made me look so much smarter as a coach,” she added. “To say that she is pretty special is the understatement of the year. Without a doubt, Towson is getting a phenomenal volleyball player, but more importantly, an absolutely amazing kid.”

On the basketball court, Wiers has been a key four-year contributor for the Flashes. She is averaging 6.5 points and eight rebounds per game in the early going. However, longtime coach Jon Dawson said her contributions beyond the numbers are far-reaching.

“She leads us in so many different ways,” Dawson said. “I can never say enough about her. Lydia really brings so much, and is a kid that has never cared about scoring or any of that stuff. She is all about her teammates and just does whatever it takes.

“A lot of times that is defensive pressure and making the extra pass and getting teammates where they are supposed to be,” he added. “Lydia has been through everything for us over four years, and she brings so much to us. And a lot of times, it's just energy."

Wiers prides herself on defense.

"My goal every game is to play hard defense and really make it difficult on opposing teams,” she said.

In the spring, Wiers just missed reaching Columbus with three of her teammates in Div. II. The Willard 4x200 quartet finished .36 seconds away from a top four finish in the regionals.

Wiers will also continue to do high school track while playing club volleyball on the side in the spring.

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