PIQUA — It was back-to-back nights of excitement for Piqua volleyball on Monday and Tuesday as the Lady Indians celebrated Reagan Toopes breaking the school record for digs set by Kelsey Magoteaux and Emily Baker reaching the milestone of 1,000 kills in her high school career.
“It was two big nights for us for those reasons and many more,” Piqua volleyball coach Jenni Huelskamp said. “We took Butler to five sets Monday and beat Sidney on Tuesday. It was great to see the girls get so excited and both girls deserve a lot of credit.”
It started on Monday when Toopes entered the match needing 23 digs to break Magoteaux’s record.
It was ironic because Magoteaux was a player Toopes always looked up to.
“I was (in junior high) when she set the record,” Toopes said. “I did think about it. She was someone I always looked up to and it was great motivation for me.”
Toopes opened her high school career with 311 digs in her freshman season.
“Really, my freshman year I don’t think I thought that much about the record,” she said. “I was just nervous about playing. I knew it was going to take a lot of hard work to get the record.”
She followed with 389 kills as a sophomore and 338 as a junior.
Toopes knew it would probably be tough to get the record Monday night.
“I knew I needed 23 digs,” she said. “That is a pretty good amount.”
She far exceeded that with 33 in a five-set loss. and now has 1,225 digs.
“It would have been better if we had won,” Toopes said. “But, it was exciting. I knew I was getting close because I could feel the energy building in the gym. When I got it, everybody just started screaming and celebrating. It was a great feeling.”
Huelskamp said it is not a surprise to see Toopes get the record.
“She is really good at reading (where the hitter is going to go),” Huelskamp said. “She picks it up pretty quickly in the match what the hitters tendencies are. She reacts very quickly.”
Magoteaux was on hand to congratulate Toopes after the match.
“We don’t talk all the time anymore,” Toopes said. “But, it was great the way she congratulated me and was really nice.”
Toopes is still trying to come to terms with what she has accomplished.
“Honestly, I don’t think it has hit me yet,” she said. “It is amazing.”
To be the new “Queen” of digs at PHS.
One-thousand kills is a milestone few high school volleyball players ever reach.
But Baker, who played her first three years at Troy Christian before transferring to Piqua for her senior year, was thinking about the milestone early on.
“Definitely,” she said. “That is something I definitely wanted to accomplish.”
After 203 kills her freshman season and 285 her sophomore year, Baker exploded on to the scene as a junior with an incredible 426 kills.
“I think after my sophomore year, I really started thinking about it,” she said.
That left her just 76 kills short of 1,000 heading into her senior year.
And Baker has quickly made the adjustment to a new school and team.
“Everything was new, but I really love it,” she said. “It is much tougher competition. It is a different atmosphere with all the people at the games. My teammates have all been great.”
She entered Tuesday’s match with Sidney needing 11 kills to reach the milestone and did it late in a five-set victory, finishing with 13 kills and career total of 1,002.
“I knew how many I needed going in,” she said. “I could tell by the fans that (her 1,000th kill) was the one. It was great to get it in a big win. Everybody just started celebrating. It was great.”
It didn’t take Huelskamp long to see what she had in Baker, who can jump out of the gym and plays much taller than her height of 5-foot-9.
And she has somewhat of a family legacy at Piqua. Her mom, Molli Hulme-Baker, played on Piqua’s back-to-back Final Four teams.
“She (Emily Baker) plays a lot like her mom,” Huelskamp said. “She is a lot like Reagan (Toopes). She analyzes the blockers and hitters and knows where to go with the ball. She has had some big matches for us, not just with kills, but on defense and blocking. She is really playing well.”
Huelskamp had talked about the Indians starting the second half of the season this week and being excited to see what her team could do.
They pushed Butler, who they had lost to in four sets the first time, in five sets and avenged an earlier loss to Sidney.
On an exciting two nights for Toopes, Baker and Piqua volleyball.