The start of the 2019 season was a pretty good one for the Meadville girls volleyball team. The Bulldogs won both of their pools at the Fort LeBoeuf Tournament subsequently earning the No. 1 seed for the playoff round.
But the Bulldogs’ fantastic run came to an end when a 17-11 lead against Harbor Creek in the quarterfinals quickly dissipated and the Bulldogs ended up suffering a 26-24 loss. On Tuesday, it looked like the heartbreaking loss was having a lasting effect on the Bulldogs during their home match against Hickory.
Late in the second set, however, something changed.
Meadville rallied back from a 25-21 loss to the Hornets in the opening set to win the next three 27-25, 25-17, 25-18 for a big Region 4 victory at the newly-painted House of Thrills.
“We knew they were really scrappy and really athletic,” Meadville head coach Tim Schleicher said of the Hornets. “They are a good team and we knew that coming in. But I thought it was more a story of our side. We looked like we wanted to fall apart in the second game. And then after the first timeout in Game 2, we seemed to get it together a little bit.
“We had a little heart to heart about how we were going to do things and low and behold, oh, that stuff works. Then we started having some fun. It was great to see us come back from that and get a big win against a very good team.”
In the opening set, the Bulldogs struggled to serve-receive and get the ball to its hot hands on offense. Meanwhile, the Hornets dug up everything that was eventually hit to them and had little difficulty finding the open floor on attack. Still, Meadville was very much in the set until its fifth service error of the set broke an 18-18 tie.
Hickory went on to score six of the next nine points to win the set 25-21.
The second set was nearly a replica early on. Meadville, again, struggled to pass the ball and set up an offense.
“The first part of Game 2 we didn’t dig anything,” Schleicher said. “We just kind of stood around and waited for people to hit balls
Eventually, the Bulldogs cleaned up their passing game and Mia Soerensen made sure to finish them off … loudly. The sophomore opposite hitter set up in the middle and tomahawked a kill to the floor to give the Bulldogs a 19-18 lead in the second set.
Meadville did give the lead right back to Hickory on a foot fault and attack error. But the kill by Soerensen sparked some confidence and the Bulldogs — riding the arm of Soerensen and Kasey Smith — pulled out a thrilling 27-25 win.
The rest of the night was all Meadville.
“It was a bit of a roller coaster,” Schleicher said. “But that’s the game. Don’t let your lows get too low and your highs be too high.”
“Last year, I don’t think we would have come back from that,” Schleicher added. “To see that progression, as a coach, that’s what makes you happy. We’ll enjoy this one tonight. We go to Corry on Thursday. That will be good for us to go on the road and into that kind of atmosphere.”
Soerensen had a huge night for the Bulldogs, tallying 13 kills, 10 digs and four solo blocks. Lucy Smith had 10 kills and 20 digs. Kasey Smith had nine kills and two blocks. Jordan Graham hit a .389 and finished with eight kills. Jillian Decker dished out 45 assists. Alexis Holt had 15 digs.
For the Hornets, Aniyah Anderson and Autumn McDonough had nine kills apiece.