AVON LAKE — Midview and Avon Lake opened the 2013 volleyball season in style.
But it was the Shoregals celebrating at the end, overcoming early miscues to pull away for a 25-21,
19-25, 25-22, 25-18 non-conference victory.
“We need to be aggressive on every play and we started backing off and getting hesitant,” said Shoregals coach Dan Berkheimer, regarding his team’s early struggles. “We don’t ever want to play that way. Even if the girls are making mistakes, they have to stay aggressive.”
After Midview jumped out to a 9-8 lead to start the match, Avon Lake showed its aggressiveness, running off a 14-4 run to grab a commanding 22-13 advantage. Junior Katie Coughlin and senior Katie Mihalik keyed the run for Avon Lake as Coughlin came up with a pair of kills and a block-kill to go with a pair of big swings from Mihalik.
Mihalik had six kills in the opening-game win and 15 for the match, with just one hitting error.
Despite the win, the Shoregals gave up 11 unforced points to the Middies and that trend carried over to the second game as 14 of Midview’s 25 game-winning points came on Shoregals errors.
A majority of those came after the score sat at 11-11. The big run for the Middies came with Cassie Haight at the service line, scoring five points on an ace, a Molly Albright kill and three errors by Avon Lake. Meghan Higley finished off the win for the Middies, with the final service point coming on a block-kill by Albright.
Higley had an outstanding night setting the ball for Midview going 59-of-63 with 35 assists.
“I think Meghan really did a fabulous job of setting up out hitters,” Midview coach Jen Shouse said. “She really put our hitters in good positions and she started connecting real well with Molly (Albright).”
Albright finished with 11 kills and three block-kills for the Middies.
In the closing two games, Avon Lake cut down on the unforced errors with eight in Game 3 and seven in Game 4.
Avon Lake turned a 13-13 game into a 22-16 lead on a pair of kills and an ace by Lauren Bakaitis and an ace from Mihalik. The Middies made a run to cut the lead to 24-22, but a kill by Devan Rybarczyk closed out the Game 3 win for Avon Lake.
The Shoregals wasted little time jumping out to a lead in the final game, going up 13-7 with Bakaitis adding three points and Kay Butrey coming up with three straight aces and a back-row saving kill after a long rally.
“We have a lot of new girls and I think we got a little nervous at the end,” Shouse said. “We have to find a way to get the fight out of the girls and not have them get on the defensive when the game is on the line.”
The Shoregals are two-time defending Southwestern Conference champions.
“We have some things to work on, especially our play at the net,” Berkeimer said. “We made a lot of mistakes up there and it kept them in the game. Midview is well coached and they fly around. Their outside hitters did a lot of damage. We are going to have to fix that in practice this week.”