Maplewood

The Maplewood girls volleyball team celebrates during its match with Fairview in the District 10 Class 2A semifinals on Wednesday at Meadville Area Senior High’s House of Thrills. Maplewood won the battle of the Tigers 25-19, 25-14, 25-13.

The Fairview girls volleyball team runs a pretty stout offense out of the middle. So the focus for Maplewood going into Wednesday’s District 10 Class 2A semifinals against Fairview was simple: do what they have done so well all year long. Serve tough.

Maplewood limited the damage by Kiersten Stafford and Caroline Kraus with a solid serving game and a smart offensive display of its own en route to a 25-19, 25-14, 25-13 win over Fairview at Meadville High School’s House of Thrills.

Maplewood improves to 14-2 and moves on to face rival Corry for the District 10 Class 2A championship on Saturday at a site and time to be determined. Fairview ends its season

at 12-4.

“We served them tough and that was the key,” Maplewood coach Sheila Bancroft said. “They have two good middles. We had to keep them out of their middle attack and I think we were able to do that with our serve.”

Maplewood, meanwhile, fed Fairview a heavy dose of … well, everyone. Freshman setter Baylie Varndell got all of her weapons involved last night. And those weapons adjusted effectively around the block of Stafford and Kraus. 

“You don’t always have to hit the ball hard,” Bancroft said. “You have to hit smart. You have to hit some seams, some corners and some deep shots. We tried to do that a little bit better tonight and I thought we did OK with it. We moved it around and I thought we put the ball where we needed to put it.”

Maplewood jumped out to big leads in all three sets. In the opening set, ‘Wood bolted out to a 6-0 lead. A service error sandwiched between a pair of blocks by Kraus made it a 7-3 game. But Maplewood regrouped and eventually extended its lead to nine (18-9). Fairview did put together a 4-0 run late to cut the deficit to four (21-17). That is as close as it would get.

Very similar story in the second set. This time, Maplewood led 11-2. Fairview went to Stafford for a pair of kills to make it 12-4, but had just two attacks the rest of the way as Maplewood took the two-set advantage.

Again, same thing in Game 3. 

“They really rely on their middles,” Bancroft said. “You saw when they passed well what happened. They did a nice job in the middle. That’s their bread and butter.”

Maplewood will see something a little different on Saturday against Corry.

“Corry’s bread and butter is on the outside,” Bancroft said. “So you don’t even have to pass good. All you have to do is throw the ball up high on the outside and let them do the work. And Maddi Vona is the best player, I think, in the region. She’s smart and she’s very solid. She’s going to get her kills. We have to limit our errors. That’s huge.”

Maplewood swept the Beavers on Sept. 17 in Region 2 play and less than two weeks later picked up a four-set win over the Beavers in a non-region match. Corry did beat Maplewood 2-1 for the tournament title at the Maplewood Invitational.

“Corry is an excellent team,” Bancroft said. “They know us very well and we know them very well. It’s just a matter of limiting errors. We can not afford a bunch of errors against them and we have to play smart. It’s not like we have to play powerful, but smart.”

Like it did against Fairview.

Chloe Leech and Maggie Thomas led Maplewood with nine kills each. Maggie Thomas also had two blocks. Finishing with three kills each were: Kirsten Motter, Sadie Thomas and Kaysea Thomas. Maddie Woge had 16 digs and three aces. Bailey Varndell had 22 assists.

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