ELYRIA — In honor of the ongoing Major League Baseball playoffs, Elyria Catholic broke out its best curveball against Richmond Heights in the Division III sectional finals at Elyria High on Wednesday night.
The hard-hitting Panthers used a pre-planned tip game that baffled the Spartans all night, resulting in a 25-8, 25-12, 25-10 win to advance to the district semifinals Tuesday against the winner of Wednesday night’s Cuyahoga Heights-Beachwood match.
The Panthers might be hoping for Cuyahoga Heights, since that was the team that beat EC in the district finals last year.
“We came into this game with the objective to work (on the tip game) to find the holes in the defense,” Panthers coach Jennifer Lee said. “Midview did a great job of beating us with that method, so we decided to adapt that into our arsenal.”
EC adapted used the strategy well, hitting the Spartans with 17 points on tips over the three games.
“I’m not one of the strongest hitters on the team, so I concentrated on finding the open spots on the floor,” said senior Brooke Nedrich, who had seven kills, with five on tips. “When I was going up, I was able to look and find the open spots on the floor.”
There were numerous open spots for the Elyria Catholic hitters, especially freshman Jessie Lee, who led the match with 14 kills.
When Richmond Heights did get to the tips, it resulted in a lot of free balls for the Panthers. They handled them with precision, getting the ball to setter Marie Vasitas, who moved it around the net for 28 assists.
“We’ve been working on a faster offense and to do that you have to have faster passes,” Vasitas said. “The passes to me were right on and I was working hard on setting quicker to get our hitters in the right position.”
Vasitas and Lee led the Panthers at the service line with 13 points each. Lee scored 12 points in two turns, with a streak of seven straight points in the first game that helped EC to an 11-3 lead. She scored five straight points in Game 3 to close out the match.
“Everything ran very smoothly and it was a great opportunity to get back out on this floor,” Coach Lee said. “The last time we were on this floor we didn’t have a good feeling when we left (after loss to Cuyahoga Heights).”
Contact James Brady at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
HITTING: (EC) Jessica Lee 13 kills, Brooke Nedrich 7 kills.
SETTING: (EC) Marie Vasitas 28 assists, Allie Kaminski 2 assists.
SERVING: (EC) Vasitas 13 points, Lee 13 points.
DIGS: (EC) Lee 5, Becca Pronesti 4.
BLOCKS: (EC) Josie Caradang 2, Caitlin Rock 2.