The Bulldogs defended their home court at the House of Thrills on Tuesday against the Panthers with a 3-0 sweep.
Meadville won 25-21, 25-22 and 25-17.
The first two sets were close but the ‘Dogs pulled away in the final set to win the region matchup.
Meadville entered the match ranked No. 9 in Class 2A in the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association’s Top 10 poll. Saegertown was ranked fourth.
“I expected a battle between these teams and it was through all three sets, though maybe the score in the final set doesn’t show that,” Meadville head coach Nick Bancroft said. “They’re a good team and we knew that coming in but we’re a good team too. Both teams need to keep fine tuning things and getting better as the season gets going but I thought it was a good start to the season for both teams.”
Meadville’s Jackson Decker started the match off with back-to-back slams to get the scoring started. Saegertown fought back and the lead changed hands seven times until the Bulldogs took an 11-10 lead. The Panthers stayed within just a couple points but were unable to go on a run down the stretch.
“I thought we played pretty well tonight for the first couple sets then they just wore us down with their attack,” Saegertown head coach Justin Johnson said. “They are pretty consistent at siding out the ball so we couldn’t get any good runs on them while we sometimes gave up three or four points in a row.”
Charlie Waid scored the final point of the first set with a kill, one of his 13 in the match.
“I was a little bit nervous in the first set. I thought we played a bit shaky coming out but once we got out of the first set we started to relax more,” Waid said. “We reduced our errors and we were just playing volleyball at that point. We were all feeling really good.”
The second set played much like the first with Meadville holding a one or two point lead for nearly the entirety of it.
Saegertown’s Max Fuller had several well-placed spikes to bring his team within one, 23-22, but Fuller’s serve fell short of the net. The error gave Meadville set point and the Bulldogs finished out with a 25-22 win.
The final set began just as competitive as the first two. With the score tied at 9-9 however, the Bulldogs went on a 16-8 run to take the third and final set.
“We will definitely get a lot better. We have some people that are pretty green in some spots as far as no varsity experience but also very little playing experience at all,” Johnson said. “We will get there if we can stay healthy. We’re not very deep so staying healthy will be important.”
Fuller led the Panthers with 14 kills. Conrad Williams and Jaden Wilkins added seven and eight kills, respectively. Logan Ingram paced Saegertown with 29 assists and 13 digs.
The Panthers dropped to 0-3 on the year.
Decker led the Bulldogs with 15 kills and added four digs and two aces. Waid recorded six blocks and five digs while Julian Jones had 10 kills and seven digs. Caden Mealy led both teams with 42 assists.
Meadville advanced to 2-0 with the win. Bancroft said the team can still improve as young players gain more experience.
“We need to eliminate errors and be more crisp. Offensively and defensively we need to be in better positions at different times. They just need more reps and as we play more the game flow will get better,” Bancroft said. We have players in starting positions that are not used to the speed but once they get up to speed and see how quick the game changes from JV to varsity they’re gonna be just fine.”
The Bulldog roster features a lot of youth. Waid is one of only two seniors on the team and feels he needs to be a leader on the court.
“Last year we didn’t get a season so I feel like I really missed out on some time,” Waid said. “Missing last year is an even greater reason to be a leader and show my energy on the court and guide these guys as best I can.”
Though the roster is young and it is early in the season, Bancroft is satisfied with how the team has performed.
“I think we’re in a good position so far. They work hard in practice and I think we are where we need to be,” Bancroft said. “There’s room for improvement but we’re gonna keep working hard and getting better.”