Strong on serves and even stronger at the net, the Avon Lake Shoregals volleyball team had the right formula last Thursday at North Ridgeville.
Five different Shoregals served up three aces apiece, and seniors Madison Olinger and Alexis Meyer combined for 23 kills in a 3-0 victory over the Rangers, their third in a row and seventh in their past nine matches. The Shoregals (9-7, 7-5 SWC) won by scores of 25-17, 25-17 and 25-20.
“We served really tough and blocked really strong,” Shoregals senior setter Emma Knick said. “Overall, I thought our passers did a really good job of getting the ball to me, and then I just did my job and got good balls up to my hitters so they could do something positive with it.”
Knick, a former backline player who moved into the setter role this season, was seemingly in the right place on every sequence, finishing with 29 assists. Along with Kai Rybarczyk, Monica Sladek, Shay McArthur and Stephanie Smith, she also recorded three aces.
After taking control of the first set and winning on a Meyer kill, the Shoregals let an early lead slip somewhat in the second as the Rangers (5-8, 4-8 SWC) fought back. Avon Lake went up 15-8 midway through, but an 8-2 North Ridgeville run closed the gap to 17-16, with back-to-back Callista Wasuk kills prompting a timeout by the visitors.
Out of the stoppage, Knick set up back-to-back Meyer kills , and the Shoregals closed the set on an 8-1 run. They led wire-to-wire in the third set, though the Rangers rallied with a 6-0 run late to pull within 24-20 before Knick assisted a Corey Kronekar spike to end the match.
“The physical effort tonight, I was very happy with it,” Shoregals coach Dan Berkheimer said. “I think the girls were happy with their effort. We weren’t as sharp as I’ve seen us. We were out of system a little more than we were in-system, but our physical effort carried us through those things. I thought we served really well tonight. But we need to challenge ourselves to play a little better.”
Olinger finished with a team-high 12 kills and 3 ½ blocks, while Meyer had 11 kills. Rybarczyk led the team with 16 digs.
For the Rangers, it was an uneven night in which they couldn’t establish their preferred pace and the connections between setters and hitters came and went. Kali Palco paced the team with nine kills and a block, and Emma Schupp finished with 11 assists and three aces.
“That wasn’t the team that we’ve seen for most of our other games,” Rangers coach Lisa Berner said. “Adjustments weren’t made, and we didn’t play our game at all. And we’ve been working really hard to play faster and to play our game no matter who’s on the other side of the court. And for whatever reason today, North Ridgeville didn’t show up.”
The Rangers can seek a measure of redemption this Thursday at 6:30 p.m. when they travel to SWC-leading Avon. The Shoregals will host Midview at 6:30 p.m.
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