December 18, 2014

Elyria
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Sectional volleyball: Amherst breezes by Lorain; Eagles, Middies battle to five games

Lorain's Serena Rodriguez hits over to Amherst defenders Mallory Sliman, left, and Alyssa Standen. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Lorain’s Serena Rodriguez hits over to Amherst defenders Mallory Sliman, left, and Alyssa Standen. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

EATON TWP. — Top-seeded Amherst didn’t need much time to win its Division I sectional volleyball match Thursday at Midview.

Maybe that’s why North Olmsted and Midview went at it so furiously in their match. They must have figured the fans needed to get their money’s worth.

The Comets made quick work of Lorain in the first match, winning 25-11, 25-6, 25-16, while North Olmsted had to go five games to eliminate the Middies, 25-23, 22-25, 22-25, 25-17, 15-10.

Amherst, the sixth-ranked team in the state, improved to 20-3 while the Eagles are 12-11 and hoping the old “it’s hard beating a team three times” axiom will be true in next week’s district semifinal.

Lorain exited at 15-9; Midview finished 12-11.

“We’ve mentioned that to our kids,” North Olmsted coach Jason Krucek said when asked about the third meeting with the Comets. “We’re going to try to work some magic. They’re a phenomenal team. They play great defense. It’s hard to put a ball down on them.”

“At this point of the season, our goal is just to move forward,” said longtime Amherst coach Laurie Cogan. “There were times when we made some uncharacteristic mistakes, however, there were other times I thought we were playing pretty good volleyball.”

Certainly good enough to move forward and face the Eagles, a team the Comets swept at home in August and beat in four games at North Olmsted a month ago.

Defense was certainly Amherst’s ally. The Comets kept the Titans on their heels all night while managing to pass the ball to senior setter Riley Schenk in good spots to get the offense rolling. Schenk had 17 assists and seven kills by finding holes in Lorain’s defense without setting. On defense, she had seven digs.

“Our defense did really well and it really helped,” Schenk said. “We have one of the best defenses around and it really makes my job easier.”

“Not only do they keep it off the floor, but they put us in system,” Cogan said. “That’s key and then you have a senior setter who has a lot of tournament experience and she has a nice group of senior hitters all the way down to sophomore hitters. She has a lot of options and makes us a little hard to defend.”

Senior Mallory Sliman had a huge night for Amherst with 12 kills, four block kills, four aces, 16 points and five digs. Freshman libero Madison Cruzado came up with 18 digs and scored 14 points at the service line with a pair of aces. Sophomore Ashley Makruski had four kills and three block kills.

“Our serve-receive fell apart,” Lorain coach Lynne Rositano said. “Especially in that second game. We put up a good fight at times but we kind of beat ourselves a lot of the game.”

North Olmsted and Midview put on a competitive match from start to finish. The Middies started slow and fell behind 13-8 in Game 1 but rallied to within 24-23 before Michelle Clark put the game on ice for the Eagles with a soft kill.

The Middies got the jump in the next two games, taking a 14-7 lead in Game 2 before holding off a late charge. In Game 3, they had a 23-18 advantage and hung on, but the Eagles controlled both Games 4 and 5 to win the match.

Senior Molly Albright (16 kills, four blocks) and sophomore Cassie Haight (18 kills, four blocks) did the damage hitting while senior setter Meghan Higley was outstanding with 43 assists.

“We knew it could be our last time playing together,” said North Olmsted senior Tia McCord, who had 18 kills and 15 digs. “We came together and really fought.”

“She’s our go-to,” Krucek said. “We tried to mix it up a little bit with our middle (Clark) just to keep (Midview) honest.”

Clark had a dozen kills and five block kills. Senior Courtney Nestoff had 14 kills and 14 digs.

“We really didn’t get into the swing of things,” Midview coach Jen Shouse said. “North Olmsted did a really good job serving us and their serve-receive killed us. We didn’t move our feet really well.”

Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or timothygeb@msn.com.