ELYRIA — It gets tougher from here.
That’s probably the way Elyria Catholic wants it. The Panthers, who hadn’t played in a week, showed no signs of rustiness in defeating Wellington 25-10, 25-10, 25-10 in a sectional championship match Thursday.
“They came out hungry,” Panthers coach Jen Lee said of her players. “They’re ready to take this ride in this tournament. They were very ready to play volleyball tonight.”
Elyria Catholic (20-3), seeded No. 1 in the district and ranked No. 7 in Ohio, had few problems with Wellington (3-21). Only in the second game did the Dukes manage to stay somewhat close to the Panthers before fading down the stretch.
Serving was especially effective for Elyria Catholic. The Panthers served 16 aces and had just four bad serves. Becca Pronesti served eight aces and Kit O’Shaughnessy served four.
“Every kid is working on a new type of serve in practice,” Lee said. “When we have to play these tougher teams down the road you have to have a way to break them.”
The Panthers will play one of those tougher teams Tuesday night at 6 o’clock. Trinity (15-9) defeated Black River 26-24, 25-17, 25-15 in Thursday’s other sectional championship.
O’Shaughnessy, Pronesti and middle hitter Abbey Flowers led the way in the first game. O’Shaughnessy and Flowers had four kills each and Pronesti served four aces.
The second game saw Wellington hang around for a while. The score was 14-10 before the Panthers ran off the final 11 points, with O’Shaughnessy serving four aces in the stretch. Karissa McGrath had six of her team-high 12 kills in Game 2.
Elyria Catholic scored the first seven points of Game 3. Pronesti had four aces in that game, including match point.
Other than not being able to handle the serves, Wellington coach Megan Birchfield had few complaints about her team’s effort.
“They gave it everything they had and that was all I could ask from them,” Birchfield said. “EC is a great team and we made them work. Our front row did a good job of blocking and a good job of hitting when we could run an offense.”
Raven Howard was the Dukes’ top player at the net with eight kills.
“That was Raven’s best match of the season,” Birchfield said. “She came to play and she played smart. I am proud of her.”
Jill Jackson added five kills for the Dukes. Stephanie Mims had 10 assists and Ashley Gott led Wellington with seven digs.
Flowers had seven kills for Elyria Catholic. Marie Vasitas led the Panthers with 15 assists and O’Shaughnessy had 10 assists. Pronesti and Rachel Duffield were high in digs with 10 and seven, respectively.
For Black River, which ended its season at 12-11, it was one different problem in each game that spelled doom. The Pirates suffered 14 unforced errors in Game 1, saw Trinity serve 11 aces in Game 2 and failed to generate an offense in the third game.
“That was what our first time out in the third game was about,” Black River coach Courtney Dieter said. “It was to get back to the offense in Game 1. Credit Trinity and the four or five nice jump-servers they have. They came out serving very aggressively.”
Megan Mey, who led all hitters with 13 kills, had eight of them in the opening game. Her kill tied it at 24 before two hitting errors gave the game to the Trojans.
“It wasn’t as great as the way we have been playing lately,” Mey said. “It was just one of those nights for us. We would make a great play, and then do something dumb on the next serve. It wasn’t us tonight.”
Trinity scored four in a row for a 13-10 lead in Game 2 and never looked back. An 11-2 run by the Trojans in the last game put them ahead by eight points.
Mey also had eight digs and two aces. Emily Cartwright led the Pirates with 21 assists and Kayla Twining led in digs with 11. Mykayla Koerner and Danielle Jenkins had five kills each.
Contact Steve Byrne at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.