SHEFFIELD TWP. — Champion versus champion did not disappoint Saturday afternoon at Clearview High School.
Defending West Shore Conference champion Elyria Catholic downed the defending Patriot Athletic Conference Stripes Division champion Clippers in five games, 25-19, 24-26, 22-25, 25-13 and 15-8.
“That is what volleyball is all about,” EC coach Jen Lee said. “You have two great, strong teams giving it everything they’ve got. “
The match had two of the best players in the county going head-to-head as the Clippers’ Heather Younkin, a Kent State recruit, faced off against Elyria Catholic junior Maryssa Kellick.
Both performed well, but the match changed late in the third game when Kellick left with an apparent foot injury.
While Clearview went on to win that third game, 25-22, the Panthers — forced to adjust to the loss of Kellick — switched from a 6-2 offense with two setters to a 5-1, run by Allie Kaminski as the lone setter.
“The team was really pumped up because we knew that Maryssa was the key to this victory and then she got hurt,” Lee said. “When she got hurt, I had to put Kaminski in the front row because I knew she ran a 5-1 in JO (Junior Olympic) volleyball.”
Truth be told, Elyria Catholic looked like a team that had just switched offenses at the end of the third game as the Clippers won out on a rotation violation and a pair of net violations to take a 2-1 lead.
Younkin, Clearview’s big gun, was held in check in the first two games with just three kills and a block-kill. She finally got loose with five kills and three blocks in Game 3 and finished the afternoon with 15 kills, 12 blocks and eight block-kills.
EC started to find its groove in the new offense in the final two games as junior Caitlin Rock and freshman Jessie Lee came up big at the net. Rock picked up four kills and Lee added five in the 25-13 win in Game 4.
“It means a lot to get a win,” Rock said. “It shows that we don’t rely on just one player, we rely on everyone on the team. We went out and played our game and fought for her (Kellick).”
Rock picked up the game-winning hit, but in the middle of the match, Lee came up with some big swings and a couple of timely crosscourt tips down the net line for valuable points.
“There was a lot of discombobulation on the first couple points,” Lee said about the change in offense. “After that, we just had to focus on getting the ball in play and getting points.”
Clearview responded early in the fifth game behind a big hit by Younkin and a pair of hitting errors by EC to only trail 4-3. That’s when the Panthers began to pull away.
Lee started an 11-5 match-ending with a kill, Rock and Josie Carandang combined on a block-kill and Rock then added two more kills. Throw in a net violation and several hitting miscues by the Clippers and it worked out to a tough win for the Panthers.
“We made some blunders, that’s for sure,” Clippers coach David Dorinski said. “That happens when two good teams play. Those momentum swings can be tough for young girls to overcome.
“It was just parts of our game that fell apart. There were a couple rotations where they would go on a five- or six-point run. When you make some mistakes, the run just continues and continues.”
For the match, Rock led EC with 16 kills, while Jessie Lee had 14. Marie Vasitas had 31 assists and 15 points, including four aces, while Becca Pronesti had 19 digs. Brooke Nedrich and Carandang had two solo blocks and two block assists each.
Sarah Ernst led the Clippers with 24 assists, while Younkin had 13 points. Nerelis Betances had 26 digs and Madison Fortney 18.
Contact James Brady at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.