By Rob Kiser
SIDNEY — Some records are a little more special than others.
Being at the top of any list in the Lehman Catholic volleyball program record book would fall into that category.
The Lady Cavaliers have won three state titles under current coach Greg Snipes and finished state runnerup three times while making seven Final Four appearances in program history.
You don’t do that without some very talented athletes going through the program.
So when 5-11 senior outside hitter Sidney Chapman broke the career kills record last week, she understood the significance of the accomplishment. Chapman already owned the top two single seasons for kills at Lehman as a sophomore and junior.
“I didn’t even realize I had broken the record,” Chapman, who had 1,341 kills entering Tuesday’s match, said. “When my mom told me, I couldn’t believe I had made history again here at Lehman.”
And when you talk to the humble Chapman, who greets you with a friendly smile and voice, you can understand why her teammates love her — and it belies the assassin she turns into when the opportunity comes to pound the ball to the floor, which Chapman does at every opportunity.
“Really, I have to give all the credit to my JO coaches, coach Snipes (Lehman coach Greg Snipes) and all my teammates,” Chapman said. “They have all helped me so much. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
And she remembers the moment she knew wearing the blue-and-gold Lehman volleyball uniform was her destiny.
“I was in the sixth grade,” she said. “I was down there (at the Nutter Center) when they played at state (Lehman won the state title in 2010). I remember telling my mom at the time, ‘I want to be like them’.”
And the fact that the leader of that team — Jessica Thobe — was the holder of the career kills record with 1,321 made it even more special for Chapman.
“I always looked up to her,” Chapman said. “She was such an awesome player. That is one reason I never even thought the record would be possible back when I was a freshman. I was just looking to be as a good a volleyball player as I could be.”
But, Snipes already knew he had something special.
“I was fortunate enough to coach Sidney (Chapman) in JO when she was younger,” he said. “You could just see she had the passion for the game. She stepped in right away as a freshman and played outside hitter.”
Chapman said she couldn’t have done that without her teammates.
“When I came in as a freshman, all the players were so friendly and helpful to me,” she said. “It is not just about volleyball here, we are a family and are all very close. That’s what makes it so special here.”
Like most great players — after 232 kills her freshman season, she continued to add to her game.
Not only did she have record seasons of 395 kills as a sophomore and 513 as a junior — to go with 201 already this season; Chapman is seventh all time in career digs with 800 and leads the team this season. Her 70 aces last season were the third best ever at Lehman and her 180 career aces put her sixth on the all-time list.
“I just played the front row as a freshman,” Chapman said. “To be honest, I never expected to be counted on for passing. To know that Snipes relies on me for that, it really means a lot.”
As you might expect, Chapman — who will play for Saint Joseph’s College in Indiana next year — has developed into a leader for the team as she has gained experience.
“She is very good working with the younger players and making them understand what they need to do and what is expected of them,” Snipes said.
And she never forgot the lessons taught to her by the upperclassmen when she came in as a freshman.
“I could definitely feel that (leadership role) over the last two seasons,” Chapman said.
Never was that more important than at the start of this season when one of the Cavaliers top players — Maddy McFarland — suffered a devastating knee injury and was lost for the season.
Chapman made sure the team stayed on track.
“We weren’t exactly sure what we were going to do (after Maddy McFarland tore her ACL earlier this season),” she said. “We just had to get figured out what we were going to do and how we were going to go about it.”
Despite a tough start against a strong schedule, there is no question the Lady Cavaliers will be right where they are at the end of every season — battling for an opportunity to play in the Division IV Final Four.
“Definitely, we are working our butts off to be the best team we can be,” Chapman said. “That (getting) back to regionals is the goal for sure and getting to the state tournament would be awesome.”
And it would be a fitting finish for a girl whose hard work has already put her at the top of the Lady Cavaliers list.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.