Coming off a three-set win over Valley Forge and a tight five-set loss to Amherst to start its season, the North Ridgeville Rangers volleyball team rode a wave of positive momentum Thursday night into Olmsted Falls High School.

And though the Rangers ultimately fell to the Bulldogs in straight sets (26-24, 25-13, 25-19), North Ridgeville coach Lisa Berner said the effort her young team showed in the first and third sets against Olmsted Falls left her and the team feeling positive about the outlook moving forward.

“(Our team had) tenacity and the push to run our offense and do what we do best,” Berner said. “We’ve been working hard in our program to create that push and that drive and we’re seeing it a lot this year. We’re improving a lot because of it.”

After the Bulldogs (8-0, 2-0 Southwestern Conference) jumped out to an early 5-1 lead in the first set, the teams went back-and-forth trading points, with no point streak lasting for more than two serves.

North Ridgeville (1-2, 0-2 SWC) ultimately tied the set at 15-15 before a 5-1 run gave Olmsted Falls a 20-16 advantage with all the momentum. That didn’t stop the Rangers from trading points once again and tying the set at both 23-23 and 24-24.

On the ensuing point, Olmsted Falls broke North Ridgeville’s serve to go up 25-24 and ended up taking the set on a ball that was called out but left the Ranger bench and fans up in arms claiming a Bulldog player touched it first.

The second set began similarly with Olmsted Falls taking a quick 5-0 lead. While North Ridgeville was once again able to push back tocut the score to 10-9, multiple short scoring runs from the Bulldogs allowed them to pull away and take the second set.

“The second set, we really focused on getting them out of system and being really aggressive on their serving,” Olmsted Falls coach Brigid Radigan said. “Their block is huge and they have some really tall kids. In order for us to be able to execute, we need to get them out of system because they’re much bigger than we are.”

The third set once again began with a quick Bulldog advantage (4-0) and again saw the Rangers fight to stay in the set. Though North Ridgeville couldn’t muster a lead change, it cut the Olmsted Falls lead to as little as one and would once again spend much of the set alternating points.

But with the Bulldogs already in the lead, that back-and-forth scoring, combined with some errors that are to be expected of a team with just four seniors, was not enough for the Rangers and Olmsted Falls ultimately closed out the set on a 3-0 run.

Leading the Bulldogs’ were Kylee Urban with 15 kills and three aces, Riley Victor (14 kills and 13 digs), Addie Odon (21 digs), Claire Harries (13 digs) and Maddie Kreitzer (three aces).

“Last year, we knew that we were losing eight seniors from a regional final team,” Radigan said. “We practiced our JV with our varsity last year so that those kids could get used to the speed of the varsity game and learn the expectations of a varsity player. They learned those expectations last year, so it’s just transferring over onto the court this year.”

For North Ridgeville, the Rangers were carried by Kali Palco with 10 kills, Emma Shupp (three blocks, 16 assists and 12 digs), Adalynn Ginley with four blocks, Breanna Ginley and Caroline Knopf with three blocks apiece and Taylor Traut with nine digs.

Among the Rangers 14 person varsity squad are four seniors, seven juniors and three sophomores. That combination of veteran leadership and young talent has Berner excited for this team’s potential this season.

“They came into this season with the knowledge that we could improve this year,” Berner said. “They took it upon themselves to push through this summer and push through preseason and do the best we possibly can. With four seniors – one of which has been on varsity for four years, (two) that have been on for three and the other one is new to our program – they lead and they show the girls how it’s done.”

Following the win over North Ridgeville, Olmsted Falls swept a non-confrence quad meet on Saturday, defeating Toledo Central Catholic, Oregon Clay and Medina, each in two sets. That runs the Bulldog’s streak of not dropping a set to this point in the season to 18 sets in a row.

After being at home against Elyria on Aug. 31, they travel to Avon on Thursday and are back home to play Strongsville on Tuesday.

North Ridgeville was at home against Avon on Aug. 31 and will continue that home stretch Thursday and Saturday as the Rangers play Elyria and Keystone, respectively.

“We’re going to take this match and we’re going to learn from it,” Berner said. “It’s something we do on a daily basis. Yeah, it’s not the outcome we wanted but, at the same time, we’re going to improve from that and we get to see them again on home court.”

Contact this reporter at sports@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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