By Lisa Byers
It has been a very long time since the Lakeview girls volleyball team has been a respected, championship-caliber team.
But following Thursday night’s Region 1 showdown with West Middlesex, a Ms. Reds’ supporter approached Lakeview head coach Lisa Herrick and offered some encouraging words.
“That’s the most stress anyone has given us all year,” he said.
“I like hearing that,” Herrick said with a big grin as he walked away. “And it was. This was great competition. Both teams came off the court sweating. That’s when you know you’ve played a good game.”
West Middlesex just happened to play a little bit better. The end result was a 25-21, 25-21, 25-23 Ms. Reds’ sweep in a match that seemed more like a late-season, region-title-on-the-line type match. But no one from Lakeview was hanging their head.
“This was crazy,” Lakeview junior outside hitter Tia Ray said. “It’s so exciting to play in a match like this. You want to just keep playing. We’re disappointed that we lost, but we played our hardest.”
Lakeview has certainly come a long ways in the last few years. Last night’s match, for example, was for first place. The Sailors were a perfect 4-0 overall and 3-0 in Region 1 tied with West Middlesex and Sharpsville. Ray and teammate Taylor Reed were quick to attribute Herrick.
“She has brought us from absolutely nothing to absolutely everything,” Reed said.
“When I was a freshman, we couldn’t even make a serve over the net,” Ray added. “And now we can serve 10 in a row.”
“She made us,” Reed said.
Herrick comes from some success herself. The former Lisa Hill was the libero for 2004 PIAA Class A state champion Cochranton. She is currently one of three players from that team involved in coaching girls volleyball. Leirin (Baker) Schmader is an assistant at Conneaut and Amanda (Staudt) Esmond is a volunteer coach at her aluma mater.
“We’re just trying to take over,” Herrick said with a laugh. “Let’s me honest. We had the best coach in the world so we might as well take it over.”
Herrick is speaking of current Cochranton girls volleyball coach Marci Malliard. Much of what Herrick learned under Malliard is what she has tried instill in her own players during her three years as a head coach.
“The one thing that (Malliard) always always gave us was confidence,” Herrick said. “Knowing that we could make that next play; telling us that we could make that next play. And she gave us intensity.
“I’m glad to bring it to a team that has been down a few years and hope they take to your program. I’m just trying to implement what Marci did.”
The Lady Sailors have picked up on it and they want to reciprocate with success.
All three sets against the Ms. Reds were tight. And in all three, Lakeview failed to give up. That was particularly true in the third set with the Sailors trailing 24-21 and on the verge of the sweep.
Sam Womer put up her fifth block of the game to pull the Sailors within two (24-22). Ray then came up with a big ace, making the score 24-23. The rally ended with a kill by Danielle Krepps.
“It was good for the girls to play in a match like this this early in the year,” Herrick said. “This is what it’s going to be like the rest of the year. They needed to be in this atmosphere. They needed to see it. Let’s be honest, this atmosphere hasn’t been at Lakeview in a really long time.”
And the next time, the Sailors will be more prepared, Reed said.
“I think we came in ready (last night),” she said. “But we’re going to come in much more prepared when we go to their house.”
Ray had a huge night for the Sailors, who are now 4-1 overall and 3-1 in Region 1. She finished with 12 kills and nine digs. Rachel McKean added five kills. Sam Riddle had 13 digs and Salena Stutzman had eight digs.
Marissa Pursel led the Ms. Reds (6-0, 4-0 Region 1) with 13 kills.