EATON TWP. — North Ridgeville and Avon took different routes Monday, but both arrived at the same disappointing destination.
The Rangers fell behind early and never found a rhythm in a three-set loss to Lorain, while Avon won the first set, then saw a pair of rallies fall short in dropping the next three sets to Midview in the Division I sectional tournament at Midview High School.
For the Titans, senior Marlena Guice led the way with team highs in digs (15) and kills (12) in their 25-22, 25-11, 25-8 victory over the Rangers.
Destiny Wilson added 10 kills and seven blocks for the Titans, who won a first-round playoff game for the first time in coach Lynne Rositano’s five-year tenure.
Lorain faces top-seeded Amherst in the next round Thursday at 6 p.m.
“We’re really excited and we’re hungry,” Rositano said. “We had a couple of tough losses in the regular season in our conference, so we’re really hungry to come out, play hard and win. The girls are really excited to be playing against Amherst to show ourselves at that game.”
Wilson, a 5-foot-9 senior middle hitter, said the Titans were hoping things would unfold this way.
“Ever since we saw the brackets this is what we wanted,” she said. “Tonight we were able to get the first one out of the way and now we can focus on getting ready for Amherst. It’s exciting.”
In the first set the Rangers jumped out to a small early lead, up 7-6 when senior Alexis Brown took the ball for her serve. Six service points later the Titans led 12-6 and did not trail in the match again.
The Rangers stuck with Lorain, using a late four-point service run from senior Emily Deveant to pull within two points at 21-19, but the Titans reached 25 points first.
North Ridgeville coach Dana Peterson would rather forget the final two sets. Lorain jumped out to sizeable early leads in both and the Rangers never recovered.
“It’s been a season of mental toughness and they don’t seem to be mentally tough,” Peterson said of North Ridgeville. “When the pressure gets added, they don’t know how to handle it. Once the momentum started going to Lorain, they couldn’t compensate for that.
“We just didn’t play our game. I’ve seen the girls before where we’ve been able to mix up the offense, but as soon as they lost the momentum they just gave up.”
Senior outside hitter Jessica Lentz led North Ridgeville (5-18) with 12 kills.
The first set between Avon and Midview was all about power, with the Eagles coming out on top. The rest of the match was all about touch, with Midview emerging as a winner, 18-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-22.
After dropping the first set, Midview attacked the Eagles’ perimeter defense with dumps and tips…and the right amount of power when necessary…to record a first-round win.
In the final three sets, the Middies had a total of 13 soft kills, tipping the ball over the outstretched arms of the Avon blockers and in front of the backline.
“I think our hitters adjusted really well tonight,” Midview coach Jen Shouse said. “We’ve got a new lineup that we’ve only played one match with, the last match of the regular season, so we’ve got a lot of things that we’re still adjusting to. It was good to see that we’re making those little adjustments now so we can get in the habit of them and playing as a team.”
Sophomore middle hitter Cassie Height had a big night for the Middies, chalking up 23 digs, 13 kills and a pair of block-kills.
“That’s been the story of our season,” coach Jenn Larrick said. “We have glimmers of really good volleyball, then we get down and one mistake leads to another. It was a snowball effect and we’ve been battling that all year. We were hoping it didn’t show up tonight but, unfortunately, it did.”
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.