By Lisa Byers
GUYS MILLS —
Every time Cochranton and Maplewood meet on the hardwood in girls volleyball, fans leave the gymnasium with their fill of good, competitive, exciting volleyball.
Thursday was no different.
Maplewood rallied back from a one-game deficit, capped by an electrifying win in Game 4, to beat the Cardinals 23-25, 25-21, 28-26, 25-13 during an emotional night that Maplewood parent Kevin Turner suggested forever be known as “Lisa Brunot Dig for the Cure Night.”
Cochranton head coach Marci Malliard and Maplewood head coach Sheila Bancroft started the annual Dig for the Cure Night back in 2009 in honor of Lisa Brunot, the mother of former Maplewood standouts Danielle and Nicole Brunot, who was battling breast cancer. The first event was held at Cochranton and has alternated venues ever since.
In 2010, Nicole Brunot organized the event at Maplewood for her senior project. Last year, Cochranton’s Ashleigh Bridge ran the show for her senior project. This year, it was Maplewood senior Kendra Turner’s turn, and it was a much more solemn event than usual.
For the first time, Lisa Brunot was not in the stands to witness the outpouring of support from the Cochranton and Maplewood communities. Brunot lost her battle on March 9 of this year.
“It was very emotional,” Bancroft said. “Marci and I said we started crying before it even started. The Brunot family just means so much to both programs. They are wonderful people. ... We will carry this tradition on.”
Not only was last night a big night for the Yolanda Barco Oncology Institute, the beneficiary at least $1,400 raised, according to Kendra Turner, it was a big night in the Region 2 standings.
The Tigers, with the win, improved to a perfect 6-0 overall and Region 2 and is now alone atop the region standings. Cochranton fell to 5-1 overall and in region play.
For the Tigers, it was a matter of finishing.
After losing Game 1, 25-23, Maplewood took control and jumped out to a 6-2 lead in the second game. Cochranton did rally back to take a 19-13 lead, but the Tigers finished with a 12-2 run for the 25-21 win.
Game 3 was a similar story. Again, Maplewood took a commanding 5-0 lead out of the gate only to see the Cards rally back. This time Cochranton wound up taking a 14-12 lead.
The Tigers eventually retook the lead and held off the Cardinals in the end for an exciting 28-26 win.
Game 4? Well, Game 4 was a clinic ... sponsored by Maplewood sophomore Madalyn Nicols.
Nicols had 11 kills in the fourth set. Eight of those came during an 11-0 run by the Tigers that began with Maplewood nursing a one-point lead (13-12).
“Oh my,” Kendra Turner said. “She had a billion kills in a row. I was so proud of her. Words can’t even describe it.”
Nicols finished the match with 25 kills. Turner added 20 kills. That offense was all set up by a tremendous effort on defense by the Tigers, led by libero Emily Merritt, who finished with 31 digs.
“We turned it on,” Bancroft said. “When we didn’t have to make Jaricka (Simmerman) run there toward the end that was the difference. Emily Merritt was just picture perfect on her passes, her digs. And that’s what got the offense moving and moving a lot quicker.”
Cochranton just didn’t have that kind of finish.
“We dug ourselves big holes in every single game,” Malliard said. “You can’t do that. You can’t work your way back like that all the time and spend that much energy. And once they got back, they laid back like, ‘Oh, we’re back now.’ You can’t do that. They just outplayed us.”
Notes: Maplewood senior Ashley Myers will undergo surgery today on a torn anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus and will miss the remainder of the season. Myers injured her knee during warmups prior to the Cambridge Springs match on Sept. 13. “We’ve had it rough with Ashley,” Bancroft said. “It was devastating. We went from what I thought was a pretty good team to a mediocre team. It’s tough because this was her year. ... It’s heartbreaking for her and the family just to know that this was going to be her year.” Myers was on the sidelines last night in support of her team. ... Statistically, in addition to her 25 kills, Nicols added nine digs. Turner added three aces; Simmerman had 52 assists and 10 digs; Liz Miller had eight kills and five blocks; and Laura Kirk had 15 digs. For Cochranton, Aubrey Hering had seven kills, seven solo blocks and 11 digs. Kendell Dickson added eight kills and seven digs. Maddie Bernarding had seven kills and 11 digs. Carli Gledhill brought up 13 digs.