Conneaut Lake and Linesville are arch rivals. It comes with the territory of being separated geographically by seven miles.
But on Thursday, the Lakers and the Lions put aside that rivalry to come together for a good cause.
And though Linesville pulled off a big 25-10, 25-22, 25-13 win to remain atop of the Region 2 girls volleyball standings with Maplewood, Crawford County Hospice proved to be the night’s biggest winner.
Last night was Volley for a Cure at the Lions Den. The event was organized by Linesville junior Marissa Johnson for her upcoming senior project. Various raffles were held throughout the night, including a 50/50, with all proceeds to be donated by Johnson to Crawford County Hospice in memory of her grandmother, Shirley Newman.
Newman was a longtime volleyball fan and loved watching her granddaughters play. She passed away last year from ovarian cancer. The care Newman received from Crawford County Hospice during her fight is something that meant a lot to Johnson and she wanted to do her part to give something back.
At the end of the night, Johnson said approximately $600 had been raised toward the cause. Her father ended up winning the 50/50, a prize of $117, and donated that back to Johnson. The match officials, Ron Newman and David Amy, donated their checks back to the cause as well.
“It went a lot better than expected,” Johnson said. “I’m really happy how it went.”
While the event was successful, it didn’t come without some emotion. Prior to the start of the match, Johnson handed out flowers to her grandfather and her mother, Debbie Johnson, an assistant coach, in memory of her grandmother. The exchange was followed by tears and a lengthy hug between daughter and mother.
“It was a rough moment,” Debbie said. “We had a rough day. My mom was very, very special to me and she loved volleyball. She loved watching her granddaughters play … I’m so proud of (Marissa). The way she handled all of this is just out of this world. She has made me so very proud.”
Of course, some of the credit goes to the Lakers, who were gracious enough to participate and even joined the Lions at center-court for a picture afterwards, despite losing a match they desperately needed to win.
Linesville coach Tim Schleicher said it was another example of how close the local volleyball community is.
“It’s special,” he said. “We all get along and aren’t afraid to help each other out. There’s a lot of respect between the teams and coaches. It makes things like this possible.”
The match itself wasn’t exactly what fans probably expected. Linesville beat Conneaut Lake in a sweep the first time around, but the Lakers were never really out of any of those games. But with the exception of the second set last night, Linesville was absolutely dominant, especially in the first set.
“That is the highest level we have played consistently in a while,” Schleicher said. “And it wasn’t like Lake was over there shanking balls and not playing defense. We had to work for our points.”
Amber Litwiler was, again, a big key to Linesville’s success. Two nights after tallying 27 kills in a four-game win over Cochranton, the junior finished with 19 kills. Challen Litwiler added 10 kills and five digs for the Lions (12-1, 9-1 Region 2). Carly Bone had six kills. Johnson had 39 assists. Kimmy Litwin had eight digs.
For Conneaut Lake (5-6, 4-6), Brielle Haase had five kills. Hailey Lowery had four blocks. Hope Gregg had 10 assists. Cerena Anderson had 10 digs.
Lisa Byers can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at email@example.com.