AVON LAKE — Even Laurie Cogan admitted her Comets may have been sneaking a peak ahead when Amherst stepped on the court at Avon Lake for Thursday’s Southwestern Conference volleyball match.
“As a coach and as players you should never look ahead,” Cogan said, “but let’s face it — it’s hard not to look ahead. I truly believe the conference championship is on the line (next) Tuesday night.”
That’s the night Amherst will visit conference leading Olmsted Falls in a match that will undoubtedly decide whether the Bulldogs win the title outright or share it with Amherst. Falls won the first match in five games after losing two of the first three games.
The Comets started slowly in each game Thursday but still managed to sweep the match against the Shoregals, 25-11, 25-13 and 25-18. The Comets (11-2, 7-1 SWC) play in a Saturday tournament at Hudson.
It was tied at 8 in Game 1 before Amherst finally took control. Senior Courtney Jarvis served for the final nine points. She didn’t exactly have her best night on the floor, but certainly did enough things right.
“I honestly don’t know what was going on,” said Jarvis of the Comets’ lethargic starts in each of the three games. “I don’t know why because I love playing Avon Lake — our rivals and everything. Our passing was awesome and I think that’s why we beat them in all three games.”
“Courtney is certainly the person we count on,” Cogan said. “And I thought other than her offense, she was pretty solid. Her offense she was kind of like one gear off. I know she was frustrated by it.”
Avon Lake (5-8, 5-3) trailed just 6-4 early in the second game before Amherst rattled off eight of the next nine points for a 14-5 lead. In the third game, the Shoregals had a 15-12 advantage before another run by Jarvis at the service line gave Amherst a 17-15 lead, and the Comets never looked back.
“We play like we’re a young team,” said first-year Avon Lake coach Jen Howser. “But we’re mostly seniors and juniors. We just don’t have that confidence yet. We play well in spots but we’re just inconsistent right now.”
Rarely did the Shoregals score more than one point at a time. Only in the final game did they appear to have the momentum. Avon Lake had leads of 5-2, 7-4 and 11-6, but when Jarvis knocked down a perfect set by Lauren Percival to slice the lead to 12-10 it appeared to be only a matter of time before the Comets took control.
To its credit, Avon Lake hung tough — a strong kill by Miranda Barnhart and an ace by Lisa Bakaitis gave the Shoregals a 15-12 lead — but Jarvis smashed one down to regain the serve and Percival set freshman Deme Morales twice, and than shoved one to the back line, to give Amherst its first lead of the game. Brittany Walter came up with a block kill to extend the lead to 17-15, and Avon Lake never closed to within a point again.
“I thought Deme played well,” Cogan said of her young hitter. “Walter was outstanding at the net. She has been very solid in blocking for us. She’s anywhere from six to 10 solo blocks a night. Abby Burgdorf has continued to make a major contribution and Bridget Beury is doing some things for us.
“Defense was spectacular. I thought (Ashley) Aponte and Olivia Sliman did an outstanding job in the back row.”
“(Amherst) is a great defensive team,” said Howser. “They keep things alive. They don’t give up on any play. They are a hard-working, do-or-die team and that’s part of what we lack. It’s a big mental thing. We played really tight with Olmsted Falls for two games and (Amherst) was a game we’ve been looking forward to all year — but we played young. There’s really no other way about it.”
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.