Coming into Thursday night’s game against Shoregals, the Avon Eagles volleyball team had not dropped a set this season.

Leaving Avon Lake after the match, that was still the case as Avon took a straight-set victory over its bitter rival (25-17, 25-23, 25-21).

After Avon won an impressive first set, the Shoregals (8-5, 6-4 Southwestern Conference) fought back against the Eagles (11-0, 1-0 SWC) in the second, leading by as many as six points at 18-12 and forcing an Avon timeout. In the huddle, Eagles coach Julie Bendzuck said just the right things. Avon went on to score nine of the next ten points to lead 21-19, and never trailed again in the set.

“I just told them that I felt like they remained composed the whole time in the second set,” Bendzuck said. “We did not play well at all the first 15 points and we dug ourselves a hole and we had to find a way to get out of it. I thought we got out of it by our aggressiveness defensively. It was good for us to feel some pressure and I was proud of the way we came back and responded.”

The third set was another tightly-contested one as the Shoregals and coach Dan Berkheimer were never more than four points away and traded serve constantly late in the set. In the first meeting between these two teams in August, Berkheimer was displeased with the effort his team showed.

This time, however, even though his team came up short again, he was proud of the fight it showed throughout the match.

“I’m proud of the girls just from where we came from,” Berkheimer said. “The first time we played them, it was the first conference match of the year, we were kind of embarrassed, to be honest. And I wasn’t embarrassed with our effort tonight at all. We had an opportunity in the second set for sure, but we need to learn how to close.”

Avon continues its conference slate tomorrow at home against Midview and Saturday on the road at Perrysburg. Bendzuck knows that, even though her team is playing well right now, that there are still areas that need improvement if it is to remain undefeated.

“We have a list of three or four things we need to get better at,” Bendzuck said. “I just told them, we can talk about how well we’ve played and how many we’ve won and all that, but that’s not what gets us better. When you find your weaknesses, that’s when you’re able to expose them in practice and really work on it.”

The Shoregals will also run up against familiar opponents in North Ridgeville and Amherst Steele on Thursday and Saturday respectively.

“I think the pace of everything we did was really good,” Berkheimer said. “When I’m talking about finding that pace of the game, that’s what we really need to focus on. Continuing that speed from the very beginning. We didn’t do that today.”

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

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