ROCKY RIVER — Elyria’s volleyball players needed only to look in the mirror for any extra motivation at Saturday’s 29th annual Rocky River Invitational.
After all, the two-time defending champs were only seeded sixth. The Pioneers thought they deserved more respect.
So they went out and earned it.
Elyria (7-4) swept the tournament’s top three seeds in straight sets, including previously unbeaten and state-ranked Kenston (9-1) in the finals, 25-14, 28-26.
“(The seeding) was huge motivation for us,” Elyria coach Jodie Johnson said. “We showed we still have the capability of playing high-caliber volleyball.”
Junior outside hitter Amanda Medvetz and sophomore middle hitter Brigette Jones earned all-tournament honors. Medvetz and Jones led the Pioneers against Kenston with eight kills each. Defensively, Medvetz paced Elyria with 12 digs in the championship match.
“Kenston’s a great team, but we were completely underestimated,” Medvetz said. “We just wanted to come out, play our game and play hard.”
The Pioneers rolled over the No. 1-seeded Bombers in the first game, but trailed for most of the second. Elyria finally retook the lead at 22-21 when Kenston couldn’t handle Lexie Smith’s serve.
Elyria had Kenston at match point three times before coming through.
The Pioneers led the Bombers 24-22, but junior Claire Randall’s tip dodged the first bullet. An Elyria hitting error by Jones and a Randall service ace then put Kenston in front, 25-24.
Medvetz’s kill ace and Jones’ service ace put Elyria back in front, 26-25. Kenston tied it again at 26 following a Pioneer attack error. A service error by Bomber senior Lindsey Zsebedics and a hitting ace by senior Jodi Richards gave Elyria the game and title.
“Communication was key,” Jones said. “We communicated well today, plus we had a lot of fun.”
It wasn’t easy. Elyria trailed by as much as four (18-14) in Game 2.
“We just had to pass to the setter and put something down,” Medvetz said.
Junior setter Erica Bracey had 17 assists for the winners. Senior libero Jen Bower added 13 digs and seven service points.
Junior Jacque Hawes put in work at the net with two solo blocks. Smith provided Elyria with tough serving with six service points and two aces.
“Today, we definitely showed consistency,” Johnson said. “We played together, we played as a team and we executed.”
Elyria beat No. 2 seed Fairview (7-1) in the semifinals, 25-17, 25-15. Medvetz had seven digs and six kills, while freshman Kristen Boros had seven kills and six digs. Bracey chalked up 22 assists and nine service points.
Elyria overcame a slow start in the opening round to defeat No. 3 Medina (9-3), 25-23, 25-17. Boros (eight kills), Medvetz (five kills) and Bracey (17 assists) led the attack. Defensively, Medvetz (12 digs), Boros (11 digs) and Bower (nine digs) led the way. Bower also had seven service points.
Avon (3-7) and Avon Lake (2-7) met in the consolation finals for seventh place. The Eagles rallied to win, 13-25, 25-18, 25-19.
Both teams lost their first two matches. Avon lost to Kenston, 25-9, 25-14, and Lakewood, 25-14, 25-23. Avon Lake lost to Fairview, 25-21, 25-21, and Medina, 25-9, 25-18.