SHEFFIELD — If a coach could use a mulligan in volleyball, then Lorain’s Lynne Rositano would have done away with Game 2 on Wednesday night.
Unfortunately for her Titans … no such luck.
In a battle of volleyball powers, the Brookside Cardinals held off Lorain for a 25-19, 25-9, 25-20 win in non-conference action.
The Cardinals improved to 14-1, while the Titans fell to 11-3.
“We played pretty well in the first game, and for the most part in the third game as well,” Rositano said. “I don’t even want to talk about the second one. We’re just going to pretend it didn’t happen.
“We just fell apart in the second game. In the first and third I thought we put up a good fight. We passed well, we got a good amount of swings and we dug a lot of balls. Brookside swings a lot, and I thought we did a good job of keeping the ball off the floor.”
It was the hitting of seniors Shelby Kerstetter and Gabby Woods, junior Morgan Brinkman and sophomore Tyller Holley — along with some great offensive execution from senior setter Kady Whitsel — that led the Brookside charge.
Kerstetter finished with 20 kills on 29-of-30 hitting, and eight blocks. Holley added eight kills and Woods chipped in with seven, to go along with 30 assists from Whitsel, who finished 63-of-64 setting.
But despite the big statistical night from the Cardinals, Lorain came to play. Opening up Game 1 with a quick four-point run and grabbing a 15-13 lead midway, the Titans were more than a handful for Brookside at the net.
It wasn’t until a Woods ace serve, which made it 21-18, gave the Cardinals some breathing room and the momentum to take Game 1.
“We came out flat, which is the first time we’ve done that, and we started to question ourselves,” Brookside coach Ted Whitsel said. “Our passing wasn’t quite there and there were some causes for why we got a couple of points down. It wasn’t anything to run home and cry about. Then all of a sudden the light bulb turned on and they said ‘Hey, we’re a good team.’
“And from then on it was a good battle. By the middle of that game, we had settled down and started swinging like we can.”
But as well as Lorain played in the opener, it played just as bad in Game 2. Quickly falling behind 7-0 — thanks in part to six points from Whitsel and four Kerstetter kills — the Titans’ big blocking attack at the net seemed to disappear.
“That was our biggest problem in the second game, our blockers just couldn’t put a block up,” Rositano said. “In the first and third we were able to get a lot of touches on the ball and let our back row dig. That wasn’t there in the second.”
Holley and Brinkman got into the act, taking feeds from Whitsel and putting the ball down on the Lorain defense, helping the Cardinals run out to a 20-5 lead.
According to Kady Whitsel, it was a simple adjustment from Game 1 to Game 2 that made all the difference.
“I had to keep them (her sets) off the net because they have such a big block, and our hitters definitely used them,” Whitsel said. “They used their outside hands, and tooled their block really well tonight. And we had to use a little bit of a quicker offense tonight, because of their big block, and it went well. That’s something we’re going to have to use a lot more as the season goes on.
“We had an easy game (on Tuesday against Oberlin), so I think we came out a little slow tonight and thought we could just carry over from that one. (Lorain) showed us that we had to play hard, and I think we played the hardest we’ve played all year in that second game.”
Lorain battled back in the final set, trading points with Brookside and playing to an 11-all deadlock. But more hitting from Kerstetter and a solid outside attack from Woods helped the Cardinals gain control and finish off the Titans.
“Shelby just rules the net,” Ted Whitsel said. “And how about Woods on the outside block. She used that outside block for at least a half dozen shots that she just tooled the outside. There’s no defense that can play that ball. If you can tool that outside block, you’ve got winners all day.”
“Lorain definitely came to play,” Kerstetter said. “We just had to find the holes in their defense. We kept swinging hard, and they have a great defense around their block so you have to cut the ball. You can’t swing straight into them.”
The Titans won’t have long to ponder the loss, as they have a big Lake Erie League match against Maple Heights tonight. Lorain is 8-1 in the conference, with its only setback coming from the Mustangs earlier this season.
“I wish that things would have gone our way. I feel that we are somewhat of an evenly matched team with our offense,” Rositano said. “From what I saw today, how we played against a really good team, and this is the first really good team we have played, I think we’ll do well the rest of the way.”
Contact John McDermott at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.