By Pete Chiodo
Sure, getting over a broken heart takes a little time.
Yet, General McLane wasn’t about to wait around as the Meadville girls volleyball team sorted out its emotions following its first loss of the season, recorded on Thursday in a three-set sweep to Conneaut.
“That was a big match we just lost,” said Meadville senior Monica Jackson. “We were all down a little bit.
“I think (it affected us), definitely.”
While Meadville was, as coach Tammy Webber put it, “still jet-lagged” on Monday, the Lancers came out and took it to the Lady Bulldogs, winning the first game 25-22 and the second 25-13.
Now, the Lady Bulldogs were faced with a choice: Snap out of it, or prolong the misery.
They chose the former option, rallying in the final three sets, 25-22, 27-25, 15-13, to pull out an exciting non-region victory over the Lancers at McLane High.
“They definitely showed a lot of character,” said Webber. “You learn from losing, you learn from winning. And winning like this, you learn a lot. And come district time, it’s going to come down to this every time. So we’re going to need to learn to play in every situation — down, up or whatever.”
With the win, Meadville improves to 12-1 on the year. GM drops to 8-3.
“There’s a great improvement from the first time we played (Meadville),” said GM head coach Heather Karns. “They took us in three last time. So, going five shows that we’ve improved greatly.”
General McLane played a smart match at the outset. Molly Regan was an expert at finding an open spot on Meadville’s court, finishing up with 13 kills, most of them well-placed tips. And Maureen Nkomo was a monster at the net, finishing the match with 17 kills.
When and if Meadville would answer was still in question through most of the third game. General McLane raced out to a 4-1 lead. But then Meadville’s offense started showing a little life.
It all started, as it does in volleyball, with the pass.
“Passing, clear and simple,” said Webber. “If you can’t pass, that just takes you out of your game plan. You can have the best hitters in the world and if you don’t pass, it doesn’t matter.”
The two teams were neck-and-neck through most of the third. Then, with GM leading 13-12, the Lady Bulldogs had its first big run of the match — six points to take an 18-13 lead. Marcadi McCoy had back-to-back stuff blocks during the run. She would end up leading the team with five blocks overall.
McLane inched back into the game, making it a one-point affair at 23-22. But a well-placed tip by Monica Jackson and a quick-hitting kill by McCoy sealed the deal.
Even so, McLane still had some momentum left going into the fourth, chalking up leads of 6-3 and 8-4 in the early going.
After some back-and-forth, GM still led 10-8 when Jones caught fire at the baseline, and Jackson came alive at the net for the Bulldogs. And those two led the way during a five-point run that gave Meadville a 13-10 lead. Jones had a pair of aces, Jackson had a pair of kills.
“In the first two sets we shut down Leah Jones and Monica Jackson,” said Karns. “Then we just stopped blocking. “And it wasn’t that we couldn’t get our hands on it. We were getting our hands on it. We just weren’t kill-blocking them. And they started using our block more instead of just hitting into it.”
McLane, led by some nice work at the net from Lindsey Jahn, fought back to take the lead at 20-19.
But then Jackson and Jones heated up again. With Jones serving tough, McLane had trouble getting anything to score with. And Meadville setter Kaitlyn Newman used the freebies to set up Jackson at the corner. And Jackson made the most of those opportunities, hammering in four straight kills to put the Lady ’Dogs’ in front 23-20.
Jones sent a serve wide. But Jackson answered with another kill to give Meadville back the ball.
McLane enjoyed a three-point bounce to tie the game at 24-24. But Jackson again found the hardwood to put Meadville in front 25-24.
Jahn tied it again for McLane. But McCoy drilled home a spike to push Meadville to a 26-25 lead. And Jahn had a kill attempt go long, giving Meadville the win and forcing game five.
Jackson had 11 of her match-high 23 kills in the fourth set. Jones had two of her team-leading seven aces.
The fifth game was a continuation of that white-knuckle pace that was established at the end of game four. Each team enjoyed a couple scoring runs, and the score was tied four times leading up to an 8-8 deadlock.
GM inched out to a 10-8 lead when, after an extended volley, Jones delivered a strike to the Lancers’ court and then took the ball to the baseline to serve. Two aces later, Meadville was up 11-10 and rolling.
Jackson added her 23rd kill of the match. Mylinda Hartnett had an ace down the stretch. And at match-point, McCoy powered a shot through GM’s block to end it.
Along with her 23 kills, Jackson had 13 digs. Jones added 13 kills and 24 digs to her stats on the night. McCoy finished with nine kills and five blocks. Ellen Mook had five kills and three blocks Mylinda Hartnett had 30 digs. Christy Espy had nine digs. And Newman issued 49 assists and had 11 digs.
For McLane, Nkomo added seven digs to her 17 kills. Regan had finished with 38 assists and nine digs. Jahn tallied nine kills, five blocks and nine digs. Katie Clark had 14 digs. Michelle Jahn had five kills and 10 digs. And Brittney Hunter finished with five kills and seven digs.