When they last met on Sept. 8, the Westlake Demons were the tougher team at the net than the Avon Eagles, blocking and terminating balls with regularity.
The Eagles still won the match, but knew they needed to clean up in the front. They did exactly that last Saturday when the Demons visited for a Southwestern Conference rematch, winning 3-1 by set scores of 25-20, 25-17, 24-26 and 25-19.
At times, it seemed the Demons (7-6, 7-6 SWC) weren’t going to get many shots past the Eagles’ (14-0, 12-0 SWC) front line, anchored by Avery Abfall, Jamie Villwock and Jordan Kauffman, who combined for seven blocks.
And when it was time to put away sets lofted up by Emma Farney, Abfall (18 kills) and Emily Gardner (17 kills) unloaded a litany of powerful spikes. Farney finished with 40 assists.
“I think our blocking was very good today,” said Villwock, who added seven kills and an assist. “Last time we played (Westlake), they were blocking us a lot. So we got in a lot of practice and worked on our own blocking, and we came out today and showed it.”
After a back-and-forth first set, the Demons hung tough in the second and took a 14-13 lead midway through. The Eagles rebounded in a big way, however, closing the match on a 12-3 run to go up 2-0 in the match. Abfall scored back-to-back kills to put the set away.
Then the Demons found life in the third. Trailing 21-17, they went on a 9-3 run late to pull out a 26-24 win. Anika Norris started the rally with a kill and a block on consecutive plays. With the teams tied at 24-24, Cami Whitesell’s kill and an M.E. Hargett block sealed the set.
“I’m really proud of the girls for fighting,” Demons coach Meghan Spriggs said. “We could’ve rolled over and said enough is enough (late in the third set), but we kept fighting back. Our passing was on point, and when we’re passing well, we’re tough to beat.”
Hargett finished with 13 kills and 17 digs for the Demons, while Morgan Rogers had 19 digs and nine kills, and Maddie Gentzel had 34 assists.
Despite receiving a tough test from the Demons, the Eagles were able to stay undefeated and continue their march to a fifth straight SWC title.
“We refocused and got the win in the fourth set, which is the most important thing,” Eagles coach Julie Bendzuk said. “Overall, a win’s a win, and we’re going to get everybody’s best match, so I’m happy that we got a victory and we’re able to move forward to the next week.”
Avon will host North Ridgeville this Thursday at 6:30 p.m., while Westlake will face another tough test this Thursday when Amherst visits for a 7 p.m. start.
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