ELYRIA — Maybe it was the emotion of Senior Night. Perhaps it was the extended freshman and junior varsity games that caused a delay to the start of the varsity match. It’s even probable that the inspired play of visiting Bay had a lot to do with it.
Whatever the reasons, Elyria Catholic suffered a 25-19, 13-25, 25-20, 26-24 loss to the Rockets in a pivotal West Shore Conference match.
It ended up not mattering, as the Panthers (15-6, 10-3 WSC) claimed the conference championship when Lakewood knocked off second-place Rocky River.
“We were totally out of our element,” EC coach Jen Lee said. “(The players) never got into the game. I don’t know if it was a Senior Night thing. God knows what it was, but it wasn’t an EC kind of night.
“We’re getting started late. They’re anticipating Senior Night all day long. It’s not an excuse, but this was probably our worst performance as far as getting out of the gate, having that gumption to get out there and play ball.”
Bay, who lost 25-11, 25-14, 25-23 in the teams’ first meeting, took control of Tuesday’s match from the start, rolling to an easy Game 1 win.
EC bounced back for an easy win in Game 2, thanks in part to a six-point service run from senior Marie Vasitas that gave the Panthers a 21-12 lead. Vasitas led the Panthers with 20 assists, while Allie Kaminski had 18.
The Rockets (12-9, 8-5) picked it right back up in Game 3 and held off every EC rally in Game 4 to win the match.
“It fizzled fast,” Lee said of EC’s momentum after Game 2. “Every time we started to get going, pssshhh.”
“Our girls kept fighting,” Bay coach Katie McCarthy said. “They never give up. It doesn’t matter what the score is, they’re playing like it was 0-0, game point, going hard.”
Bay never trailed in the first game once it secured a 15-11 lead off a kill by 6-foot senior Bridget Durham, a block kill by 5-10 senior Savannah Skelly and Durham’s ace.
After the second game, Bay bounced back off runs of three and seven points to gain an 18-11 advantage with Durham and Skelly contributing big kills. Durham had 14 kills in the match, while Skelly finished with 10. Junior Megan Lowery had 44 assists, and junior Laura Wilson led with 22 digs.
In Game 4, EC kept things interesting but the Rockets answered every rally and never trailed, although the score was knotted several times — the last at 24-all off a soft kill by Panthers junior Caitlin Rock, who finished with 18 kills. Freshman Jessie Lee had 20 kills and 11 digs for EC.
“We’re kind of peaking at the right time,” McCarthy said. “We’re on a six-game winning streak and we had a big tournament win this weekend (at Mayfield). It’s just clicking and we’re playing hard.”
Durham was particularly effective, adding four aces to her 14 kills. She was consistently at the net blocking and making the Panthers earn anything they got.
“She was a huge force,” Lee said. “She did a great job shutting down our outside hitters. The block was just amazing. It was hard for us to even tip over top of her.”
“It was really great,” Durham said. “We worked really hard the whole time. We kind of walked in with nothing to lose. (EC) was up (in the standings) by so much. We made history. We haven’t beaten EC in two years. I’m so happy.”
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.