ELYRIA — A new game plan for Elyria Catholic was instituted for its match Tuesday.
“We were working on power tipping,” junior outside hitter Rachel Duffield said. “We tried to tip it to open spots. I think it really worked well.”
EC coach Jen Lee was less enthusiastic. The power tipping wasn’t much of a factor because it didn’t need to be one.
“Do you want to hear something amazing?” Lee said following the Panthers’ 25-15, 25-23, 25-18 win over West Shore Conference rival Avon. “We had only two hitting errors all night.”
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Lee repeated “two hitting errors,” with pauses between the words for emphasis.
Elyria Catholic stayed in sole possession of first place in the WSC.
“That’s unbelievable,” Lee said. “That was the story of the match. Two hitting errors is sensational. I thought we would need to tip the ball to avoid blocks, but our aggressive attack stayed with us.”
The Panthers found the open spots in the floor, but rarely used tipping to put the ball there. The old-fashioned aggressive attack that earned the Panthers a No. 5 statewide ranking in Division III was led by Karissa McGrath, who had 11 kills and four block kills.
McGrath had the first two kills of the match, slamming the ball into the empty areas of Avon’s side of the floor with unmistakable authority.
“Karissa set the tone for the match,” Lee said. “And our defense was extraordinary. The girls were very relaxed out there. It was good to get a three-game win. We had been playing four- and five-game matches lately.”
McGrath was complimented in the hitting category by Duffield (eight kills), Kit O’Shaughnessy (seven), Abbey Flowers (six) and Maryssa Kellick (five).
The victory raised Elyria Catholic’s record to 13-3 and 9-0 in the conference. Avon dropped to 9-5 and 7-2.
“EC won the pressure battle,” Avon coach Jenn Larrick said. “They played great from the start, and we never got over the pressure. Our girls never seemed to get comfortable on the floor. That’s disappointing, considering the way we had been playing lately.”
The Eagles had won their last four matches, all against WSC opponents, to stay within striking distance of EC.
Avon rallied in the second and third games. The Eagles almost overtook EC in Game 2, going on a 7-1 run to get within 25-23 before a kill by O’Shaughnessy put the Panthers up by two games.
“I’m sure that would have made a difference,” Larrick said. “It might have given us more confidence.”
The score was tied 6-6 in Game 1 before the Panthers went ahead 15-8. Avon cut the difference to 15-13, but EC recovered to score 10 of the last 12 points.
The Eagles picked up their hitting in Game 2. After getting just seven kills in the opening game, Avon had 17 in the second. Olivia Schneider, who was without a kill in the opener, had six in Game 2. Brianna Conroy added five.
The Eagles led 15-14 before the Panthers scored eight in a row and hung on for the Game 2 victory.
EC erased a 3-2 disadvantage with a 13-4 run in Game 3. The Panthers stretched the lead to 22-10, mainly on seven kills by McGrath, before Avon went on an 8-2 run. A hitting error ended the evening.
O’Shaughnessy had 11 assists and 11 digs. Marie Vasitas led EC in setting with 12 assists and Becca Pronesti was high with 12 digs. McGrath had six total blocks and served two aces.
Schneider, Conroy and Rachel Steinert led Avon with nine kills each, Liz Zollos had six kills and Conroy added three blocks. Madi Matisak had 23 assists, Erin Cannon had 14 digs and Sarah Berkheimer had a pair of aces for the Eagles.
Contact Steve Byrne at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.