CONNEAUT LAKE — As members of the same school district and with just roughly 10 miles separating the two schools geographically, Conneaut Valley and Conneaut Lake have always had a pretty intense rivalry when it comes to athletics.

But in girls volleyball, the level of intensity picked up quite a bit on Sept. 15 when Valley beat the Lakers in the semifinals, preventing Conneaut Lake from advancing to the championship game of its own tournament. On Thursday, the Lakers were looking for some revenge, and they got it.

Conneaut Lake wrapped up the first half of the Region 2 volleyball season last night with a 25-22, 25-23, 25-10 sweep over the visiting Indians. With the win, the Lakers improved to 7-1 overall and in Region 2 and remain just a game back of region-leading Cochranton.

For Conneaut Valley, the loss was its fourth straight. The Indians are now 5-4 overall and 4-4 in the region after starting the season at 5-0.

“They were fired up,” Conneaut Lake coach Mary Talbot said of her team coming into yesterday’s game. “We had a meeting (Wednesday) for about an hour-and-a-half before practice. We were ready.”

So was Conneaut Valley, though.

The Indians and Lakers fought hard in the first two games of yesterday’s match with neither team holding more than a five-point lead in either game. In the first game, that lead came at 18-13 in favor of the Lakers, but the Indians rallied to cut the deficit to 19-18.

Conneaut Lake eventually extended that lead back to four (23-19), but Valley rallied again to close to within one at 23-22 on an ace by Leah Griffin, putting the pressure on Lake. That pressure was alleviated, though, rather quickly with a service error and net violation by the Indians that gave Lake a 25-22 win.

The story was very similar in the second game. But this time it was Conneaut Valley holding the advantage late with a 22-18 lead. Unlike the Lakers in the first game, the Indians weren’t able to maintain the lead with Chantal Haase dominating at the net the rest of the way to lead Conneaut Lake to a 25-23 win and a two-game advantage.

The third game was never close.

“Games 1 and 2 to Game 3 were night and day,” Conneaut Valley coach John Chapman said. “We had the lead in Game 2 and then we got a little bit tentative. It was more like we were playing not to lose instead of playing to win. We lost that game and then it really took the momentum out.”

While the third game wasn’t real pretty — with Conneaut Lake jumping out to a 15-3 lead — it did include one of, if not the best, play of the night courtesy of Conneaut Lake setter Ashley Jarrell.

The play started when a kill attempt by Holly Field was mishandled and then shanked deep in the back court near the basketball hoop. With just one more hit allowed to get the ball over the net, Jarrell leaned back and cranked the ball over the net with a bump. The ball dropped right in front of a pair of Conneaut Valley defenders for a kill and a 24-8 lead.

“I’ve never seen a player go back there and shag a ball that was off the wall and put it over the net for a kill,” Talbot said. “Never.”

But that was all part of that plan — maybe not that exact play.

“I think they all decided (Wednesday) that it’s a new season; begin anew right now,” Talbot said. “They decided that among themselves.”

For Conneaut Valley, it just wasn’t there.

“Give Conneaut Lake credit,” Chapman said. “They took advantage of everything we gave them and did a good job. They passed well. And when they started passing that set up their offense.”

That offense was led by Haase, who finished with seven blocks, including five stuffs, 10 digs, eight points and 14 kills. Jarrell dished out 28 assists. Michelle Helbig had nine digs and Mary Sperry had eight kills.

Morgan Griffin had 22 digs to lead Valley. Heather Stewart had 20 assists; Kayla Miller had nine digs and 10 kills; and Chelsey Kimple had six blocks.



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