It was a sight the Rocky River volleyball team was already too familiar with this season.
As the final point was scored in the Pirates’ home gym on Sept. 28, it wasn’t the hosts that were celebrating but, rather, the visiting Bay Rockets after closing out a straight set 25-22, 25-17, 25-15 win. It’s the second time this season the Rockets defeated their Great Lakes Conference foe, winning the first time in four sets, 25-19, 19-25, 25-15, 25-19.
The win was also the sixth in the past eight games for the Rockets (12-3, 8-2 GLC), while the loss was the Pirates’ (7-7, 6-3 GLC) seventh in their past 10.
“We really wanted to focus on coming out and beating River two times in one season, we haven’t done that in about six years,” Bay coach Katie Seal said. “We really wanted to make sure we beat them at their place. We knew they were going to bring a big student section and we wanted to shut them down so we had to come out strong.”
As has been the case for many of the Rockets’ 12 wins this season, it was dominated by a methodical and efficient brand of team volleyball.
In the first set, Bay ran out to an early lead that grew to as many as eight points (13-5). As the Pirates chipped into the lead, Rocky River forced a tie at 17-17 and suddenly were ahead 20-18.
Unfortunately for the Pirates, their game was a story of not quite enough. Their offense, while impressive at times, struggled to find continued success. Because of that, Bay quickly tied the first set at 20-20, tied it again at 21-21 and used a 4-1 run to take the set.
“We had to make sure that we focused on our game and not what happens on the other side of the net,” Seal said. “When that happens, we just have to make sure we focus on us and not worry about them.”
Set two was a continuation of the end of the first set as the Pirates remained within striking distance for the better part of the first half of the set. Capitalizing on the hot stretches their offense provided, Rocky River trailed 12-8 and had designs of getting even closer.
It wasn’t to be, though, as Bay pulled out a 7-1 run to bump its lead to 18-10. River and Bay traded points for much of the rest of the set, but the Pirates got no closer than seven points the rest of the set.
“We have to find some sort of groove as we get into the playoffs here,” Rocky River coach Brittany Morris said. “We’re in a rut right now so we have to find that consistency. We have some really high moments and really low moments. We have to get some confidence, which I think we lacked (after) the first game. I think having that confidence in themselves and each other will help them find their groove a little bit.”
Once again in the third set, Rocky River played Bay close. As the set wore on, the Pirates trailed just 10-9 at one point. But as Bay has shown it is capable throughout the season, it flipped the script and used a 6-1 run to increase its lead to 16-10, which ended up being too much for the Pirates to overcome.
Leading the way for the Rockets was sophomore Sophie Thomas with 11 kills, three aces and four digs.
“We were playing smart and placing the ball because we knew they had big blocks up there and we just wanted to put the ball where they weren’t,” Sophie said. “We were continuing to play hard and we knew they were going to try and come back because they’re a team that can do that. I felt, as we started playing, we all got more comfortable and we were getting the ball away.”
Both teams wrap up their season on Thursday at home as the Pirates take on Elyria Catholic and Bay plays North Olmsted.
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