ELYRIA — Getting back to the basics may have been the key to Elyria winning its own quad Saturday at the Pioneer Gym.
“We had a break in our week,” Elyria coach Jodie Johnson said. “I wanted them to work on their skill set — just refining their basic skill set. We broke it down and went back to basics. We were off like five days and it gave us an opportunity to slow things down in practice.
“I got some good advice over the last week. Just get back to the old traditional volleyball. The game is still passing, setting, attacking, serving. We worked on the basics a lot this week.”
Elyria (10-8) got past Avon (12-6) in three games to open the quad and swept Olmsted Falls (9-9) and St. Joseph Academy (4-14) in two to claim the championship. Avon finished 2-1, Falls 1-2 while the Jaguars were 0-3.
Elyria beat Avon 25-17, 19-25, 25-22. Against Falls, a team that beat the Pioneers earlier in the year at the Power Quad in Toledo, Elyria won 25-20, 28-26. It finished the day by beating St. Joe’s 25-22, 25-23.
There were times when it appeared Elyria’s hitters took turns dominating the net from either outside or inside. Junior Alexis Middlebrooks was effective in the middle with junior Tyra Darden and senior Emily Mandoke doing damage on the outside.
Johnson thinks it was the Pioneers’ best overall play of the year.
“We just wanted to come in — this is our house, defend our house — and win,” said Middlebrooks, who led Elyria with 24 kills, 14 solo blocks and two block assists. “Playing consistently was one of our goals we said (Saturday). We played pretty consistent and we did what we had to do to win.”
“It was all thanks to my setter — Haley Looney,” said Mandoke, credited with 20 kills, four solo blocks, five block assists and 23 digs. “The passes were up for us to hit it. I think we stepped up our game. We had Tuesday off this week and worked really hard in practice.”
“Everyone was doing their job so we could do ours,” said Darden, who contributed 20 kills and 22 digs. “We’ve really improved. The last game we just had to pick up our energy.”
St. Joseph gave the Pioneers fits — particularly in the final game of the day. The Jaguars never trailed the second game until a Middlebrooks block put the Pioneers up 23-22, but a service error tied it back up.
Elyria clinched the win off a net serve by St. Joseph and an ace from Middlebrooks.
Megan Schaefer had five aces and 34 digs while Kayla Young helped up front with seven solo blocks and six block assists. Senior setter Haley Looney had 60 assists.
“We kept level-headed through the whole tournament,” Looney said. “I think we’re getting there. I do think we have more potential to play better but I think we’re finally getting up to our full potential.”
“I’m impressed with how we’re playing,” Johnson said. “We are better than we were last year. I couldn’t be more pleased. They’re playing together, they like each other, they’re working hard for each other and that’s what I asked them to do.”
Avon defeated St. Joseph 25-22, 25-23 and finished the day beating the Bulldogs 25-22, 25-18. Falls won its match with St. Joes in three games, 25-22, 18-25, 25-15.
“It’s good to play here,” said Avon coach Jenn Larrick, an Elyria High grad. “Our girls were really excited to come back and play some really good teams and seeing what they could do after our loss to EC (last week). It was nice. It was good competition.”
Liz Zollos led the Eagles with 25 kills, five aces and 31 digs. Brianna Conroy had 26 kills and Rachel Steinert added 19 with three solo blocks and three block assists. Erin Canon finished with 38 digs while setter Madi Matisak was credited with 77 assists.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.