Avon Lake could be emerging as the Goliath of the Southwestern Conference after beating another longtime SWC powerhouse Tuesday night.
The Shoregals defeated defending co-champion Olmsted Falls 25-23, 25-19, 20-25, 25-17 to stay in first place through five conference matches, stay undefeated through eight matches and justify their No. 13 ranking in the Division I state poll.
“Last year we were somewhere in the middle,” junior Christine Bohan said. “This year we feel if any Avon Lake team can win it’s this team and it’s this group of girls. We just want to make Avon Lake proud.”
Bohan was likely the most Herculean of the Shoregals. The 5-foot-11 middle hitter led Avon Lake with 16 kills, including seven in the fourth game. Five of Avon Lake’s final seven points were from Bohan’s kills.
“Adrenalin kicked in, I guess,” Bohan said.
For Bohan and her teammates. The Shoregals lost Game 3 and found themselves trailing 9-2 in the fourth game when Shoregals coach Dan Berkheimer called a timeout.
“I told them, ‘This is a championship stand you have to make right here,’” Berkheimer said. “I said, ‘You make a stand now or it could be a very long season.’”
Avon Lake made the stand, roaring back with an 11-2 burst to take the lead for good. The Shoregals led Game 4 just 17-16 before scoring eight of the final nine points.
“We started getting blocks, which we hadn’t been getting before,” Berkheimer said. “Christine came alive as a hitter. She’s a middle (hitter), but I put her on the outside. I played her where she could do the most damage.”
Bohan also led the Shoregals in blocking with eight, four solo. She had three block kills, with two in Game 4.
Whitney Craigo turned in an excellent performance, going 87-of-87 setting and 34 assists. She also had 10 kills. Katie Mihalik added nine kills. Danielle Donelan and Isabelle Wagner had seven kills each. Heather Smith led Avon Lake with 30 digs. Craigo served three aces.
“Olmsted Falls is the best team we’ve played this year,” Berkheimer said. “Their speed is better than any we’ve seen so far, and their quick sets gave us problems.”
The quick hitters by setter Mehganne Dailey usually went to Angie Bush, who led Olmsted Falls (4-4, 3-2) with 14 kills. Kelsey Snider also had 14 kills and Kayla Petro had 13 for the Bulldogs.
Olmsted Falls scored four straight points to take a 23-21 lead in the opening game before Avon Lake answered with four in a row and the win. A net error by the Bulldogs was followed by a kill from Wagner and two kills by Bohan.
The Shoregals broke a 5-5 tie and constructed a 14-7 lead in Game 2. Avon Lake was still ahead 18-11 before Olmsted Falls trimmed the difference to 22-19. Kills by Bohan and Lauren Bakaitis ended the threat.
A 6-1 run by the Bulldogs opened a 12-8 lead in Game 3. The Shoregals managed to fight back and trailed 21-20 before Falls scored the final four points. Sam Smitley served an ace, Angie Bush had a kill and Avon Lake committed an unforced error to end it.
Things went badly almost from the start for the Shoregals in Game 4. Wagner’s kill for a 1-0 lead was followed by a 9-1 Olmsted Falls run. But following the timeout it was all Shoregals. A crosscourt kill by Donelan gave Avon Lake a 12-11 lead and the Shoregals never looked back.
Contact Steve Byrne at 329-7135 or email@example.com.