AVON LAKE - Another match for Avon Lake.
Another slow start by Avon Lake.
Another victory by Avon Lake.
That has been the pattern for so much of this season. Dan Berkheimer loves the winning. It's the sluggishness in the early going he can do without.
"That's the issue when you play in a three-game format," Berkheimer said. "A slow start can be the kiss of death."
The Shoregals avoided that lethal liplock by rallying to beat Midview in three games in a triangular Saturday. The Middies took the opener 25-17 before Avon Lake came back to win 25-9 and 25-20.
"Midview won the first game because they have a good defense, and they serve well," Berkheimer said.
"When our blocks aren't there we're in trouble, and they weren't there in the first game. When we can put teams on their heels, we're very hard to stop."
Midview's Arrianna Cumberledge and Lindsay Schoen were hard to stop in Game 1. Cumberledge had seven kills and Schoen six. Cumberledge served six straight points, with three aces, as the Middies opened a 12-4 lead.
The Shoregals shook that off in the second game, going on an 11-1 spree to open a 15-6 lead and never let up. The Shoregals scored the game's final six points.
Avon Lake also beat Lakewood 25-9, 25-17 to improve to 13-0. Lakewood defeated Midview 26-24, 15-25, 25-17.
"Down or up, we all stay together," Shoregals senior co-captain Danielle Donelan said. "From the summer on into the season we've stayed together."
"And had fun," added Erin Kearns, the other captain.
Katie Mihalik led the Shoregals versus Midview with 11 kills, including seven in Game 3. Christine Bohan added eight kills and four block kills, and Isabelle Wagner had six block kills. Heather Smith had 22 digs and Whitney Craigo had 22 assists.
"We didn't get great passing, but Whitney didn't give up on anything," Berkheimer said. "Somehow she got the ball to our hitters."
Midview fell to 9-5. The Middies have lost three in a row and four of their last five matches.
"We've been in a slump," Midview coach Jen Shouse said. "It started at Westlake (Invitational on Sept. 17). We fell flat and we haven't picked it up.
"We played the way we're capable of playing (in the first Avon Lake game). I thought I had my team back, but we really crumbled in Game 2. We needed to make adjustments and we didn't make them. In Game 3 we waited too long before we decided to play the way we can play."
It appeared as if the Middies might hand Avon Lake its first loss. Midview fell behind 15-7, but the Middies chipped away and got within 20-19 on a Cumberledge ace.
Cumberledge's next serve found an unguarded corner of the Shoregals' side of the floor, but the ball fell just outside the line.
"It was an aggressive serve," Shouse said. "It was just 2 inches from tying the score."
Avon Lake took advantage of that with three straight points to go up 24-19. A kill from Schoen kept Midview alive before Mihalik's kill ended it.
Cumberledge had 16 kills, served four aces and had 12 digs in the Avon Lake match. Meghan Higley had 29 assists versus the Shoregals.
The Shoregals did not have a slow start against Lakewood (11-5), dominating the Rangers in Game 1. In the second game, however, Lakewood held an 8-2 lead before Avon Lake went on a 14-3 run to gain control.
Mihalik had six kills, Donelan had 12 serve receptions, Craigo was 36-of-36 setting with 15 assists and Taylor Leube served two aces against the Rangers.
Midview looked strong against Lakewood in Game 2 after its close loss in the opener. The Rangers, however, picked up the defense and the blocking in Game 3.
Contact Steve Byrne at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.