YORK TWP. — Buckeye claimed the first key victory of the season in the Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division.
Senior middle hitter Casey Allen had a career-high 16 kills Tuesday, including five in the decisive fifth game, as the Bucks rallied for a 25-23, 15-25, 18-25, 25-15, 15-13 triumph over Firelands.
The win allowed Buckeye (6-1, 5-0) to keep pace with defending champion Brookside (8-1, 5-0) atop the division, while the upstart Falcons (4-2, 4-1) fell one game back.
“I told the girls they have nothing to hang their heads about tonight,” Firelands coach Diane Price said. “They left everything they had on the court and they fought hard the entire way.
“Buckeye had to earn every point they scored because we didn’t give them many.”
Junior middle hitter Paige O’Connell had nine kills and a match-high seven blocks for the Falcons, whose only previous loss came against Lorain.
Senior outside hitter Maison Mastellone also had nine kills for Firelands, while junior outside hitter Casey Morrissette collected five kills, a team-best three aces and 22 digs.
“Paige is capable of taking over matches at times, and I thought Casey was very good tonight,” Price said. “They are my go-to, take-charge players, and Maison was right there with them.”
In the decisive fifth game, Firelands seized a 5-2 lead on an ace by sophomore setter Mikayla Walbom, but promptly gave up six straight points to fall behind 8-5.
The teams continued to trade momentum until the sixth tie of the game at 13-13, when Allen fired a kill down the middle of the court. Buckeye then won the match when a Falcons attack hit the left antenna.
“We are so pumped up right now,” Allen said. “We’re ready to bring this same intensity into every match for the rest of the year.”
Junior setter Amanda Spears paced Firelands with 13 assists and Walbom had nine.
Falcons junior Becky Myers contributed five kills, while senior libero Dannin Butchko was arguably the best player on the court during the first four games, keeping countless Bucks attacks in play.
“The two games we won, our blocking was spot-on, but it broke down late,” Price said. “Buckeye was able to get some balls through, and that hurt us.”
The Falcons only committed 35 errors as a team, compared to 59 by the Bucks, but could not match their hosts’ firepower.
Maggie Galaszewski (12 kills) and Amy Esker (11 kills) joined Allen in establishing career offensive highs for Buckeye, which also received 36 assists, three blocks and three aces from freshman setter Katie Galaszewski.
“Unfortunately, we made a lot of errors tonight, but most of them were because Firelands kept extending plays with their defense,” Bucks coach Craig Peterson said. “We were only able to overcome it because our girls played with so much heart down the stretch.”
Brookside hosts Buckeye on Thursday night, with the winner claiming sole possession of first place in the division.
The Cardinals will travel to Firelands on Sept. 18, which also serves as the end of the first half of the PAC season.
“It’s exciting to know that we’re in the race, especially since we were a .500 team in the league last year,” Price said. “I think it’s going to be close between us, Brookside and Buckeye the rest of the way. It’s kind of fun thinking about all the good volleyball that is still ahead.”
- Buckeye’s lone loss this fall came in a home triangular against Dalton on Sept. 1.
- The junior varsity Falcons came from behind for a 19-25, 25-20, 25-12 victory.
Contact Brian Dulik at firstname.lastname@example.org.