ELYRIA — It was a battle of unbeaten Greater Cleveland Conference teams Tuesday at Elyria High but Strongsville left no doubt about who was the better team.
The Mustangs swept the young and inexperienced Pioneers 25-17, 25-13, 25-16 behind a tremendous defensive effort and outstanding net play.
“We had 50 digs in the three sets,” Strongsville coach Tristan Harker said. “Sam Csire had 12 digs and we had nine blocks as well.”
For Elyria it was simply a matter of too many errors — too many service errors, too many receiving errors and too many hitting errors.
“We had a lot of unforced errors,” Elyria coach Jen Shouse said. “Strongsville was very aggressive and they jumped on us. We had some opportunities in the third set and we just came up short.”
The Pioneers (4-1, 2-1 GCC) tried to make a game of it in the third set after falling behind 11-5 early. They managed to trim the deficit to 15-13 behind a couple kills from senior Madi Smith and junior libero Adrian Petrisko, but the Mustangs (6-0, 3-0) scored seven of the next nine points to widen the lead to 22-15. A pair of aces from junior Kirsten Eppele sealed the match.
In Game 1, Strongsville broke a 6-all tie with seven straight points and kept the lead pretty safe from that point. Elyria’s Abby Monn had four kills early in the game.
“We really put up a big block,” Harker said. “We knew Elyria’s best hitter was on the out-side, so we really focused our block out there against No. 12 (Monn) and dug the line as well against her and that really helped us get our defense rolling.”
“We definitely struggled with our offense,” Shouse said. “Serve-receive was not one of our strengths, which it has been in the past. Our serving couldn’t get on a run. Just a lot of unforced errors on our part and they took advantage of it.”
In Game 2, the Mustangs put together another seven-point run for a 12-4 lead. Elyria never got closer than seven points the rest of the game.
“We just didn’t have enough fight,” Shouse said. “These girls have shown a lot of fight so far this season but (Tuesday) was one of those nights where it didn’t go our way. We just didn’t have it.”
Petrisko led the defensive effort for Elyria with 10 digs. Smith had seven digs and 11 assists, and Regan Holliday had seven assists. Monn finished with 11 kills, and freshman Kayla Bender had five.