ELYRIA — It had been a rough week for one of the most highly regarded Division III teams in Ohio.
Elyria Catholic lost its first match of the season Wednesday, falling to Keystone. The Panthers almost lost to Rocky River the night before, and they struggled against Bay on Thursday evening.
The week ended well, however. Elyria Catholic played magnificently in three of four games in defeating Clearview 25-17, 15-25, 25-16, 25-16 in a non-conference match Saturday.
“I think they’re back to normal,” EC coach Jen Lee said of her team. “They played very well tonight. This was the best they’d played all week.”
EC improved to 9-1 for the season. Clearview fell to 5-2.
The only bump in the road was Game 2, which the Panthers regarded as a reminder that Clearview was an opponent not to be taken lightly.
“Every game we lose is a reality check,” Abbey Flowers said. “We can always find a way to improve our play.”
“The second game showed us that we need to be aggressive all the time,” Kit O’Shaughnessy said. “We were lazy in that game. We weren’t hustling after the ball.”
The Panthers were also allowing Clearview’s outstanding middle hitter, Heather Younkin, to have her way at the net. Younkin had six kills and a block kill in the second game.
Younkin was not nearly as effective after that, getting just two kills and a block kill in each of the final two games. A little adjustment Lee made after Game 2 had a lot to do with Younkin being kept in check.
“I put Abbey (Flowers) across from their big girl,” Lee said. “Abbey did a good job of shutting her down. She could block her and that freed up Karissa McGrath to do her thing.”
McGrath, who had a terrific first game and finished with 20 kills, had only two kills in the second game. She had four in Game 3 and five in Game 4.
O’Shaughnessy turned in another fine all-around performance with 20 kills, 15 assists, 16 digs and four blocks. She was especially strong in the final game, with seven kills.
“They did a nice job of finding open spots,” Clearview coach Dave Dorinski said about Elyria Catholic. “My team got away from its base defense and EC took advantage of it. That’s what good teams do.
“After the second game we weren’t getting good passes to our setter. We became very one dimensional after that. And when Heather isn’t at net we’re in trouble. It can be a 10-point difference when that happens.”
Younkin led the Clippers with 15 kills and seven block kills. Katlynne Baker was next in kills with seven.
Clearview opened a 9-5 lead in the second game and gradually expanded the margin until it reached its widest at 10 points. The Clippers were ahead 5-2 in Game 3 before EC went on a 14-3 run and never allowed Clearview to get back in contention. The Panthers dominated the last game, leading 9-2 and 19-9.
Marie Vasitas led the Panthers with 26 assists. Becca Pronesti joined O’Shaughnessy as leader in digs with 16. Rachel Duffield added 10 kills and 15 digs for EC.
Sarah Ernst led Clearview with 18 assists. She was the high scorer for the match, serving 14 points with three aces. Nerelis Betances was high for the Clippers with 13 digs.
Contact Steve Byrne at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.