EATON TWP. — Opening night provided plenty of jitters and miscues for both Avon Lake and Midview, but the Shoregals took advantage and pulled out a 25-22, 25-23, 25-27, 25-21 non-conference volleyball win Tuesday night.
“I was pleased despite coming out jittery and we played pretty well in Game 1 to get off to a good start,” Avon Lake coach Dan Berkheimer said. “We’re going to have to play fast this year and I thought we got a little sluggish as the game wore on.”
From the start, both teams were nervous as the Shoregals and Middies combined for 21 unforced errors as the opening game sat tied at 22 following a tip on a 50/50 ball by Midview’s Becca Mullins.
With Alyssa Seljan at the service line for the Middies, Avon Lake was handed the game as Midview finished the game with three straight hitting errors.
After 10 unforced errors in the first game, the Middies had 11 more in the second game as Avon Lake used the freebies and four early kills by Katie Coughlin (17 kills) to build a 14-3 advantage.
The Middies finally shook off their mistakes — getting three kills each from Cassie Haight, Hannah Bell and Kayla Payne — to cut the Shoregals lead to 24-23, but a hitting error once again doomed the Middies.
The roles reversed in the third game as the Shoregals made 12 unforced errors, with half of them coming with a 22-18 lead.
Erin DiFranco served for three points on a pair of errors and a kill by Payne to tie the score at 23. A Haight kill tied the game at 25 and the Middies snagged a 27-25 win as Avon Lake closed with a pair of hitting miscues.
After 10 kills and three block-kills in the first two games, Avon Lake’s Coughlin was held to just one kill in the third game.
Berkheimer knew that had to change.
“At one point in that third game during a timeout, I told Katie that she had to demand the ball,” Berkheimer said. “I was really proud of the way she stepped up and turned her game around.”
Coughlin responded with six kills in the final game, giving her 17 for the night. Avon Lake needed every one of them as the score sat tied at 19 before Alex York came up with a kill, Devan Rybarczyk had a huge solo block-kill, the Middies had a hitting error and libero Lauren Kollias dove to save a ball only to have it land on the sideline for a Shoregals point and a 23-19 lead.
“I saw the setter turn back a little and I knew that (the ball) was going to be pushed to the outside,” Rybarczyk said. “I was able to slide and front the hitter.”
Fittingly, the night ended when Avon Lake clinched the match on a Middies hitting error.
“Communication was a huge thing for us tonight,” Middies coach Jen Shouse said. “There were a lot of rookie mistakes, we just had balls drop uncontested in that fourth game and I told the girls that if we correct those mistakes, we’ll be OK.”
Contact James Brady at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Avon Lake 25-25-25-25, Midview 22-23-27-21
HITTING: (AL) Katie Coughlin 17 kills, Devan Rybarczyk 12; (M) Cassie Haight 15, Becca Mullins 9, Kayla Payne 9.
SETTING: (AL) Kaitlyn Applegate 25 assists; (M) Hannah Bell 119 of 122, 37 assists.
DIGS: (AL) Lauren Kollias 27; (M) Ali Stanziano 27, Haight 23.
SERVING: (AL) D. Rybarczyk 13 points, Tate Rybarczyk 11, Alex York 8 (4 aces); (M) Erin DiFranco 11 points, Haight 9.