LINESVILLE — The Conneaut and Meadville girls volleyball teams entered Tuesday night’s Region 4 showdown in very different situations.
The Eagles were in sole possession of first place in Region 4 and were coming off a sensational five-set victory over state-ranked Maplewood. Meadville, meanwhile, was coming off an embarrassing loss to Warren that left head coach Tim Schleicher puzzled.
But when Conneaut and Meadville convene on the field or court, records and reputations mean very little. And in Conneaut head coach Christine Krankota’s words, last night’s volleyball match had all the ingredients to be a “perfect storm.”
And while a storm was certainly brewing late, the Eagles came away safe, victors of a 25-19, 25-11, 27-25 sweep over the Bulldogs at Conneaut Area Senior High.
“We understood that this could have been the perfect storm (last night),” Krankota said. “We understood Meadville’s situation last week. We played two really tough games last week and we had that thriller against Maplewood. We expended a lot of energy in that match and we knew this could have been a perfect storm coming in, with Meadville out for blood.”
Meadville only further proved that point early.
The Bulldogs took charge in the opening set. Kasey Smith had a kill and then a block and the Eagles misplayed a free ball on serve receive to give the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead in Game 1.
Conneaut eventually tied it up at 3-3. From there, it was back and forth with Meadville and Conneaut swapping the lead five times. The set was tied 18-18 before the Eagles took the lead for good.
The Eagles’ close to the opening set took the wind out of the sail for Meadville. The Bulldogs never threatened in Game 2, giving their only true fight late after Schleicher started to clear his bench. In fact, the Bulldogs outscored the Eagles after the subs entered, but the score was already well out of reach.
Meadville dug in, though, and wiped the slate clean to start the third set. That storm Krankota feared was developing.
Meadville started Game 3 with an 8-0 run with Lucy Smith on serve. Smith had a pair of aces and Ella Stewart, who came in during the second set, put up a stellar block during the run to get the Bulldogs fired up.
The Eagles didn’t go down easily, though, and knotted it up at 9-9. Meadville, still, wasn’t finished. This time, Jillian Decker went back to the service line and smacked over a pair of aces to help the Bulldogs push their lead back to four (13-9).
It was a battle from there.
The score was tied seven times before the Eagles saw their first match point up 24-23. CASH had match point two more times with Taylor Kersnick finally ending it at 27-25 with her eighth kill of the night.
“Still a few too many errors, especially with the big lead in the third,” Schleicher said. “That’s a good team. Cass is a handful and they played hard. And I thought we did too. They put a lot of pressure on us and I think that’s going to help us moving into the second half of the season.”
Conneaut is now 6-1 overall and 5-0 in Region 4. Meadville is 4-4 overall and 3-2 in the region.
“We didn’t pass very well (last night),” Krankota said. “We talked about that as a team. I think especially compared to the last couple of weeks, we faltered in that area. But the great thing was we made up for it in other ways. We didn’t put our heads down. We decided we were going to dig in. And we could have (put our heads down) in that third set. We get down 8-0 and nobody has their heads down. There was no one with a defeatist attitude in the huddle. They all that attitude that we can do this; we’re good. They can rattle off eight points; we can rattle off eight points.
“Meadville played us good. They really did. They served well. They had a lot of energy tonight. This was big for us. It was a big confidence booster.”
Snider led the Eagles with 16 kills. Rylee Jones had 14 digs. Emily Bortnick passed up 33 assists.
For the Bulldogs, Lucy and Kasey Smith had three kills each. Lucy Smith also had seven digs and five aces. Mia Soerensen had three aces and three blocks.