AMHERST — The Amherst volleyball team was able to clinch the outright Southwestern Conference championship, but rival Olmsted Falls made sure the Comets earned it.
Amherst won two close sets before blowing a big lead and dropping the third.
They then rallied to finally put the Bulldogs away, 25-22, 25-23, 22-25, 25-20.
The Comets senior captains, after watching their team cough up an early 10-4 lead in dropping the third set, took control. Outside hitter Mallory Sliman had three straight kills to open the fourth, then senior setter Riley Schenk added two more as the Comets jumped out to a 7-1 lead and rolled to the decisive win.
“We weren’t letting that go to five (sets),” Sliman said. “It was time for it to be done. We were looking to win this conference and it was time for things to be settled. There was not going to be a fifth game tonight. It was hot in here, we wanted to get out and wanted to be conference champs. And we did it.”
Sliman finished with 18 kills and 10 digs for Amherst, who improved to 17-3 overall and 11-0 in conference play.
It was Schenk, however, who Olmsted Falls coach Dawn Moses thought made the difference.
“The key for us was to stop the setter and we didn’t do it,” Moses said. “She’s very tough to read and she doesn’t sell it very early. You have to be really fast to dig those down. We made a switch after the first game but what can you say? That was two good teams battling.”
Schenk led the Comets with 40 assists and used a move she has perfected over the years, a quick spike to a corner instead of a set, to rack up 12 kills. She also had 10 digs.
“Olmsted Falls is probably the toughest team I play against with my offense,” Schenk said. “When we played them last year in the district they switched their whole defense around because of me. I thought they were going to do that tonight, but they didn’t. I just played like I usually do against them.”
Sophomore middle hitter Lexi Lombardo led Olmsted Falls (12-8, 7-3) with a match-high 20 kills while junior outside hitter Kerri Gasper added 17 kills.
Sophomore Ashley Makurski had 17 kills for the Comets, who play St. Joseph Academy at home Tuesday before closing out their regular season at home against Brecksville next Thursday.
“It was the perfect game for this to happen, the perfect way to settle the conference,” Sliman said. Whenever we play them we get pumped up because they’re our rivals. This was perfect.”
Contact Mike Perry at 329-4135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.