MEDINA — For more than two decades, members of the Coughlin family have played an integral, behind-the-scenes role in the local volleyball community.
They will be under the spotlight tonight at the Medina County Senior All-Star Match, which takes place at Medina High. Gates open for the event at 6 with the first serve slated for 7:30.
Brunswick defensive specialist Kayla Coughlin and Medina libero Anna Coughlin — first cousins and close friends — are on opposing teams for the three-game contest, marking their seventh and final head-to-head battle on the varsity level.
“I’m always excited to have a chance to play with or against Anna; I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Kayla said. “I love it either way, but playing against her means we get to mess around with each other from different sides of the court.
“The first time we played against each other was in seventh grade. Little did we know then that we would have a cousin showdown at least two times each season through our senior year.”
Kayla Coughlin played in a county-high-tying 87 games for the Blue Devils, who reached the Strongsville Division I District final. The 5-foot-2 speedster made 264 digs, scored 160 points and logged 311 serves, ranking second on the squad in those categories.
Anna Coughlin, who stands 5-6, topped the Bees with 309 digs and 40 aces while starting all 23 matches. She scored 124 points on 239 service attempts and dished out 32 assists in her third varsity campaign.
“I’m extremely excited to play against my cousin,” Anna said. “We were on the same team when I started playing club volleyball in 2010, and I’ve played against her almost 15 times since then.
“Seeing Kayla will be great, but I am sad that the season is ending because I really loved playing with my team at Medina this year.”
Both girls’ fathers — Kelly and Brian, respectively — have served as Brunswick’s head coach and had great success at other schools. Their uncle Todd is the official photographer for the All-Star Match, while Kayla’s older sister Makenzie played in last year’s contest.
Two more Coughlins are in the volleyball pipeline as Trinity (Brunswick) and Casey (Medina) are sophomores on junior varsity squads. And their grandfather Marty, affectionately known as Pops, is one of the evening’s sponsors through his Dependable Scaffolding.
It’s a remarkable legacy that includes Kelly being one of the founders of the Medina County All-Star Match in 1996, along with being the lead assistant for the Blue Devils this season.
“Knowing that my dad was part of creating this match makes it all the more special to me,” Kayla said. “It was just as special having him coach me as a senior, which is something I will never forget and meant so much that I cannot even describe it in words.
“It truly has been a blessing to play with my cousins throughout my volleyball career, and having our entire family be part of the experience is more than anyone could hope for.”
Buckeye’s Tom Schuler will coach the team featuring Medina’s Alyssa Hudak, Rachel Hawk, Callaghan Lewis and Anna Coughlin; Wadsworth’s Stacy Witschey, Kenzie Grice, Lindsay Carr and Alaina Coote, and the Bucks’ Koral Gibson, Shannon Galdun, Katie Davis, Kayleen Sexton, Katie Lyons and Alaina Calame.
Their opposition consists of Brunswick’s Maddy Neitzel and Kayla Coughlin; Cloverleaf’s Jamie Briggs, Brooke Swain, Kristen Hall and Lisa Wangler; Highland’s Sarah Lyons, Madi Sima, Alyssa Sabol and Olivia Severyn; and Black River’s Hannah White and Erica Benson.
Locally owned Minuteman Press and Tandem Volleyball Club also are sponsoring the match. Tickets will be available at the door for $5 (adults) and $3 (students).
Contact Brian Dulik at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @BrianDulik on Twitter.