OLMSTED FALLS — Unless something outrageous happens in the next two weeks, Amherst and Olmsted Falls will share the Southwestern Conference championship.
Amherst moved into a first-place tie with Olmsted Falls by shocking the Bulldogs in three games on the OF home court Tuesday night. The Comets won, 25-19, 25-22 and 25-22 to run their record to 15-2 overall and 8-1 in the SWC.
Amherst dominated the close of play in the first and second games, and held off a Falls rally in Game 3 to win its 11th consecutive match.
Olmsted Falls (12-2 overall) had defeated Amherst earlier in the season in five games. Since then, the Comets have yet to lose a game to an SWC opponent. The Bulldogs, similarly, had not lost any games to conference rivals until Tuesday.
The rubber match could happen in the Division I district tournament. Amherst and Olmsted Falls are expected to be seeded first and second.
“We’ve thought since the beginning of the season that we’d play them three times,” Olmsted Falls coach Dawn Moses said.
“We lost to them three straight times and we finally beat them,” said an out-of-breath Courtney Jarvis, who led Amherst with 22 kills. “It’s my senior year and I’m so excited. We had all the momentum on our side, with the way we ended that second game.”
Game 2 was declared over when Olmsted Falls was penalized for calling a third time out. Amherst was ahead 24-22 at the time after rallying from 20-16 behind.
“We had to settle down, play our game and get all distractions out of our heads,” Amherst coach Laurie Cogan said. “This is their home. Their crowd made a lot of noise. The band was playing. There were a lot of distractions, but we stayed focused. We never allowed them a run of seven or more straight points.”
Lauren Percival, the Comets’ junior setter, had a sensational night with 97-of-97 setting and 41 assists.
“When we played them the first time I didn’t think our setter was on,” Cogan said. “She got off to a slow start this year, but she has worked very hard to correct herself. She gave us more opportunities to swing tonight. I think we can hit on the outside with anyone. We just have to be given the chance.”
In addition to the 22 kills by Jarvis, an All-Ohio candidate, freshman outside hitter Deme Morales had 14 kills.
“Is she special or what?” Cogan said of her youngster. “She was huge. She came to play from the start. She has the mentality of an 18 year old.”
Amherst’s blocking and defense had a lot to do with the victory. The Comets had 13 block kills, including five in Game 2 and seven in the third game. Brittany Walter had 14 blocks and six block kills and Bridget Beury had 13 blocks. Abby Burgdorf came up with three block kills.
“Abby did an incredible job on her side of the net,” Cogan said. “She kept their offense in check. It’s something a lot of people do not notice because they’re looking at the hitting.”
Jarvis also led the Comets in digs with 28. Ashley Aponte added 23 digs as the Amherst blockers were able to tip many of the Bulldogs’ kill attempts and keep the ball in play.
Lauren Whyte, Olmsted Falls’ junior all-stater, had 12 kills. Calli Roberts added seven for the Bulldogs. Julie Radigan led Falls with 30 assists.
“Amherst brought it’s A-game we didn’t bring ours,” Moses said. “We didn’t pass well. They took the ball off our blocks really nicely. That’s a great team.”
The Bulldogs took a 7-3 lead in Game 1 before Amherst came back to go ahead 9-8. Olmsted Falls’ last lead in the opener was at 15-14.
Amherst experienced its only period of poor play midway through Game 2 as the score went from a 10-7 Comets lead to 19-15 in favor of Falls. Amherst, with Jarvis getting five kills down the stretch, recovered and took a 22-21 lead before winning on the time-out violation.
The Comets jumped on the Bulldogs early in the final game, holding leads of 8-3 and 15-6 before Falls chipped away. The ‘Dogs got within 23-22 before Amherst put it away on a kill by Percival.
The loss broke Olmsted Falls’ eight-match winning streak.
Contact Steve Byrne at 329-7137 or email@example.com