Conneaut Lake’s Chantal Haase (3) hits into the block of Cochranton’s Leann Bortner-Yasay (center) and Shelly Hill (right) during Region 2 girls volleyball action Tuesday. Cochranton continued its dominance of the region with a 25-12, 25-11, 25-14 win over the Lakers. Cochranton’s Kristen Woge (left) also helped on the block.

Meadville Tribune

COCHRANTON — Cochranton’s focus going into Tuesday’s Region 2 showdown with Conneaut Lake was quite simple. Pass and serve.

The Cardinals executed both to near perfection yesterday en route to a 25-12, 25-11, 25-14 win over the Lakers in a battle of unbeatens.

Cochranton took over sole possession of Region 2 with the win, improving to 7-0 overall and in region play. The Cards also extended their region match winning streak to 55 matches and have now won 77 straight games in region play as well.

Conneaut Lake fell to 6-1 overall and in Region 2.

“We passed well and we served well,” Cochranton coach Marci Malliard said. “Those were the keys to the game. Everything happened beyond that. That’s what I was most pleased with.”

The Cardinals finished the match with 15 service aces with several other serves forcing the Lakers to send over free balls, which Cochranton took full advantage of.

Lauren Dalton led Cochranton with six aces. Four of those came in the third set where the Cards tallied nine overall. Leann Bortner-Yasay added four in the game as well.

“We’re a pretty good serving team right now,” Malliard said. “When you’re on the smaller size (as a team) there are things you work on to make up for height. Serving has been one of those things and they’re doing a nice job.”

Cochranton’s serving, as previously noted, really flourished in the third game when it looked as though Conneaut Lake was stealing the momentum.

Down two sets, the Lakers picked it up in the third game right from the get-go, working their way to a 7-3 lead. A big part of Conneaut Lake’s success was limiting Cochranton’s top servers Leirin Baker, Dalton and Ashley Lippert to just a serve apiece. Bortner-Yasay, though, was eventually the one that came back to hurt the Lakers.

Bortner-Yasay cut Lake’s lead to just two (8-6) with her first ace of the game and tied it two serves later with another ace. Dalton gave the Cards their first lead at 9-8 with a kill and back-to-back aces by Bortner-Yasay extended that lead to 11-8 before handing the ball back over to Conneaut Lake with one of only four service errors committed by the Cards in the match.

Bortner-Yasay served a total of six points during that stretch. Dalton followed four servers later with a string of seven straight points, including four aces, that put the game and match away.

“This was a big game,” Dalton said. “We were both undefeated, so this meant a lot … We played hard.”

And, again, it wasn’t just the serving. While Conneaut Lake struggled with its passing game the Cards put on a clinic led by the defensive play of their new libero Katie Sheehan, Dalton and Hill. The trio was outstanding and allowed Cochranton and Baker, the setter, to run the offense at-will.

“When any team passes, they can do everything they want (offensively),” said Malliard. “We just happened to pass very well (Tuesday).”

Kristen Woge led the Cardinals’ offense with 10 kills. Hill added nine kills and Dalton had seven. Baker set it all up with 28 assists.

Defensively, Sheehan finished with 11 digs. Hill had seven digs and Dalton added four.

For the Lakers, Chantal Haase had nine kills and five blocks, including a stuff. Ashley Jarrell had 14 assists; Mary Sperry had six kills and four digs; Emily Kantz had four points with an ace.

Cochranton won the Grove City Tournament on Saturday, beating Class AAA Butler in the final. The win helped the Cardinals move from eighth to fifth in the most recent Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association Top 10 Class A rankings.

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