PARMA HEIGHTS — It was just over a week ago that Keystone jumped out to a 2-0 lead at Brookside, only to see the Cardinals rally for a thrilling come-from-behind win in five games.
In the first round of the Division II sectional Monday at Holy Name High School, the Patriot Athletic Conference foes went at it again.
This time, Keystone finished the job.
After battling though a tough first game, the Wildcats dominated the final two for a convincing 25-20, 25-11, 25-17 win.
Keystone (17-6) advances to Wednesday’s sectional final against Rocky River, while the Cardinals bow out at 13-9.
In the second sectional game Monday, Firelands (16-7) hung tough against a tall Bay team before being eliminated 25-20, 25-17, 25-16.
Bay (14-9) advances to play host Holy Name in the other sectional final Wednesday night.
The Keystone-Revere match begins at 6 p.m., while the Bay-Holy Name match is expected to begin at 7:30, or 30 minutes after the Keystone match ends.
Vermilion wrapped up the night with a 25-14, 25-7, 25-22 win over Brooklyn and moves on to face top-seeded Padua on Thursday at 6 p.m. in another sectional final.
“That match (last Saturday) was a tough one,” Keystone coach Bud Trego said. “What changed this time was our focus. We were a little more focused and things were clicking.
“A little bit early on in that first game, I think we had seven errors in their first nine points, so it was a little shaky at first. But once everything got straightened out, we played pretty well.”
It was Brookside that took control to start the match, grabbing a 12-9 lead. But behind the serving of junior Brooke Trego and the net play of senior Jenna Quillen and junior Liz Hayes, the Wildcats answered with five unanswered points to take a 14-12 lead.
The game went back-and-forth until the end. With the score tied at 17, Keystone outscored Brookside 8-3 down the stretch to get the win, with five of those points coming on block kills from Quillen and Darcy Irish.
“We definitely blocked a little better than we did that last time we faced them,” Coach Trego said. “I think we had hands on almost everything they hit. We worked on blocking all week, and it paid off, that’s for sure.”
From that point on, Keystone dominated. The Wildcats opened a 10-3 lead in the second game and extended that advantage to 20-7.
And they didn’t let up in the third game, scoring the first three points and never letting Brookside get any closer than two points the rest of the way.
“We had a lot more focus today,” said senior outside hitter Emily Peters, who led a balanced net attack with eight kills in 29 attempts and added a team-best 12 digs. “We knew we had to be focused because we knew what they were going to bring to us since we played them last time.
“It really helped when someone would get a kill and the rest of us would cheer for them. We all fed off each other’s energy out there and it really brings everybody else up when it’s not just one girl doing the damage.”
Brooke Trego was 67-for-70 setting with 24 assists and 30-for-30 serving with 16 points and seven aces. Hayes had seven kills, Morgan Myers had 11 digs, Irish had three solo blocks and two block kills, while Quillen had five kills, one solo block kill and two assisted block kills for the Wildcats.
For Brookside, Morgan Brinkman had eight kills and 11 digs, Tyller Holley had six kills and two block kills, while setter Natalee Halkiadakis had 23 assists.
“I didn’t see my team that I’ve had for the past eight games,” Brookside coach Karlee Bruck said. “We finished up the regular season on an eight-game winning streak and coming in to here, it just seemed like we were a little out of it. There’s certain aspects of our game we have improved dramatically on throughout the season, and those aspects seemed to go out the window all of a sudden.
“I think our girls put more pressure on this than just a volleyball game, for whatever reason. Maybe because (Keystone’s) in our conference and it’s always a big game during the year, but it seemed like they had added pressure on them and it just kind of broke them in the end.”
Firelands that jumped out to the early advantage against Bay, taking leads of 5-1, 6-3 and 10-7. However, Bay stormed back with five unanswered points to take a 12-10 advantage, and the Rockets never allowed Firelands to even tie the score again.
The Falcons did end the first two games as the hotter team though. They outscored Bay 4-2 to end the first game and had a 5-2 run to end the second.
However, whatever momentum they gained from those late spurts went away in the decisive third game. Bay scored the first four points and had leads of 8-1, 9-3, 10-4 and 15-5 to essentially put the match away.
“We executed our plan blocking and all that stuff,” Firelands coach Diane Price said. “Unfortunately, our serve-receive let us down. Over the last three weeks, our serve-receive has been phenomenal. Tonight, we killed our setter. We made her work, we made her run, we made her chase down balls. And when your setter is running all over the place, you can’t run an offense the way you want. And you need your setter stabilized to run an offense.
“We blocked well tonight. We had some great shots and we did what we needed to do. But I give it to Bay — they’re a nice blocking team and a nice hitting team, and when they’re on a roll like that, it’s hard to stop.”
For Firelands, senior Paige Connell had 10 kills and added seven service points and two aces. Sophomore Dalaney Rogala had four kills and two solo blocks, sophomore Katie Michener had 14 digs and junior Mikayla Walborn was 9-for-10 serving with six points and two aces and was 65-for-69 setting with 19 assists.
“This was our best record in a long time,” Price said. “Today aside, this was a great season. We haven’t been .500 in the PAC before and we were 11-5 in the PAC this year. We haven’t been higher than 14 wins before and we won 16 this year. Overall, we had a very successful season and we hope to build off this and be even better next year.”
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or email@example.com.