EATON TWP. — The much-anticipated third match between Amherst and Olmsted Falls will happen Thursday at 7 p.m. in Midview High School’s Kubuski Gymnasium.
This time the co-champions of the Southwestern Conference will meet to determine the Division I district tournament title.
“This decides it,” Amherst outside hitter Courtney Jarvis said. “We split (two regular-season matches). We were co-champs. But this one decides who moves on.”
Moving on means to the Norwalk regional a week from tonight. Amherst was last there in 2003. Olmsted Falls, which just moved up Division I this year, has never made the trip.
Olmsted Falls (21-3) had a reasonably easy time eliminating Avon Lake (11-14) in Tuesday’s semifinals. The Bulldogs won 25-14, 25-18 and 25-12, ending the Shoregals’ Cinderella tournament. Avon Lake (11-14) had advanced to the district by upsetting defending champion and No. 3 seed Elyria last Thursday.
Amherst, the tournament’s No. 1 seed, had a far more difficult time of it, beating fourth-seeded Medina, 26-24, 25-23, 25-22.
“It was a nice match,” Amherst coach Laurie Cogan said. “We knew we would have our hands full. That’s a nice team Medina has.”
Amherst (22-2) almost had more than two handfuls against Medina (21-4). The Comets needed to battle back from a 23-21 deficit to pull out a victory in Game 1. Amherst was behind 22-21 at one point in the second game. The Comets led 20-15 in the final game, only to see the Bees trim the lead to 22-21 and 23-22.
“They never panicked,” Cogan said. “That was the key. At times they were shaky, but it never lasted long.”
In each game it was Jarvis coming through for Amherst. The senior All-Ohio performer came up with big kills down the stretch in all three games. She killed points 24 and 25 in the opening game, killed the 23rd and 24th points of Game 2 and gave Amherst a 24-22 lead in the closer with her 19th and last kill of the evening.
“I feel like I have to do something to get them (teammates) pumped,” Jarvis said. “I feel like I need to come up with a big kill. I take that upon myself, but I couldn’t do it without our defense and our setting.”
“Courtney was a big-time player tonight,” Cogan said of Jarvis. “Hitting, playing defense, everything. She showed a lot of leadership. Her defense in the second game was spectacular.”
Jarvis had a team-leading 10 digs to go with her 19 kills. But nothing she did got the Comets their winning point in that middle game. The second game ended on a bad serve. It was one of eight poor serves by the Bees, to only two for Amherst.
“There was one thing Medina could have done to beat us, and that was serve better,” Cogan said. “Serving was their Achilles’ heel, and we thank them for that.”
Deme Morales, Amherst’s freshman outside hitter, also had a terrific match with 17 kills, seven of them in Game 3. Cogan also praised her blockers for getting their hands on the ball, keeping so many of Medina’s kill attempts in play and putting the brakes on the Bees’ quick-strike offense.
“Medina sent a lot of low balls to the net,” Cogan said, “But we touched a lot of them and that gave us some opportunities. The touches were just what we needed, even if we didn’t get a lot of block kills.”
Amherst got one huge block kill. Brittany Walter made contact with Medina’s last kill try and sent the ball the other way, where it landed in an unprotected spot on the Bees’ side of the court for the final point of Game 3.
Lauren Gaydosh led the Bees with 14 kills. Amherst’s Lauren Percival was 80-of-81 setting with 39 assists. Ashley Aponte and Olivia Sliman added six and five digs, respectively, for the Comets.
There was far less tension in the night’s opening match. Second-seeded Olmsted Falls scored the first 10 points, with Brittany Snider serving all 10, before Avon Lake could get its act together.
“They (Olmsted Falls) are an incredibly tough team,” Avon Lake coach Jen Howser said. “They are a complete team. They came out swinging. They came out full go. They didn’t miss anything. Snider just destroyed us.”
“It was a lack of communication,” Howser said about the 10-0 deficit in the first game. “They ran into each other. To be honest, they played scared.”
In addition to serving the match’s first 10 points, Snider led the Bulldogs in kills with 11. Six of them were in Game 3.
“(Snider) has had a good last three weeks,” Olmsted Falls coach Dawn Moses said. “Lots of kills, great defense and she has served well.”
Lauren Whyte helped out with 10 kills. Calli Roberts added nine and Christine Peffer finished with seven.
“We have any one of six players who can put the ball down at any time,” Moses said. “That is nice to see.”
Also a pleasant sight was freshman setter Danya Roberts, who came in for the second and third games and turned in a fine effort. Roberts even had a pair of kills and a block kill.
“She’s an exceptional freshman,” Moses said. “She steps in and does whatever we need her to do. She’ll be a force in the future, that’s for sure.”
The Shoregals didn’t see a lead until scoring the first point of the last game. The score was 4-3 when Falls, with Anne Kelley serving, ran off nine unanswered points for a 12-4 lead. The Bulldogs were ahead 24-7 at one time.
Miranda Barnhart led Avon Lake with eight kills and 14 digs. Lisa Bakaitis had seven kills, Surti Schuller had 13 digs and Carly Dalgleish added eight digs. Kalli Wakefield had 25 assists for the Shoregals. Julie Radigan led the Olmsted Falls playmaking with 32 assists.
Contact Steve Byrne at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.