NORTH RIDGEVILLE — A young team trying to establish itself hosted an experienced one trying to polish itself for a run at a conference title. Both teams were satisfied, with reservations.
Firelands was pleased that it won Saturday, but had hoped its season-long curse — unforced errors — wouldn’t have made the Falcons struggle in the final two games.
North Ridgeville, the youthful home team, certainly wasn’t satisfied with a three-game loss but was comforted by the knowledge that it gave the favored team a battle in two of the three games.
Firelands (10-3) overpowered North Ridgeville (4-10) in the opening game, 25-15, then rallied for wins in Game 2 and Game 3 by scores of 28-26 and 25-21.
“Very much so,” said Firelands coach Diane Price when asked how important it was to win in three games. “It was important to get our heads back on straight after we lost badly to Brookside.”
The Falcons played Brookside on Tuesday with the dream of moving into a tie for first place in the Patriot Athletic Conference. They lost, 25-11, 25-22, 25-9.
Firelands rebounded with a victory over Brooklyn on Thursday prior to Saturday’s non-conference triumph.
The first game was a breeze, as the Falcons went on a 13-2 run to open a 22-10 lead. The next two were nail-biters, with North Ridgeville ahead 22-21 in Game 2 and 21-20 in the third game.
“The match slowed down, and we aren’t a slow-moving team,” Price said. “We have to play quick and fast. When things slow down we get into trouble.”
It wasn’t just a leisurely pace that bothered the Falcons in the last two sets. Firelands committed 11 unforced errors in Game 2 and 10 more in Game 3.
“That’s our biggest problem, and I don’t know where they’re coming from,” Price said. “They can’t be tolerated anymore.”
“There’s still a lot of work to do,” Falcons outside hitter Casey Morrissette said. “There are a lot of things to clean up. We didn’t make all those mistakes in the first game.”
North Ridgeville coach Dana Peterson was pleased her team, which includes only two seniors and three sophomore starters, was able to make things tough for the visitors most of the time.
“I told my girls, ‘Take this as a win,’” Peterson said. “I said, ‘They’re a veteran team, and you were able to hang with them.’”
The Rangers did make a couple of alterations after Game 1.
“We changed our defense,” Peterson said. “One girl stays on the 10-foot line and gets all the tips, and two girls do all the hitting. We also needed to shoot for the corners. We hit the ball deep and that got us some points.”
North Ridgeville never had the lead after being ahead 22-21 in the second game. Two kills by Maison Mastellone gave Firelands the advantage. The Rangers tied the score three times before a bad serve and a hitting error ended it.
Firelands trailed 18-13 in Game 3 before rallying to a tie. The teams exchanged points until it was 22-21. The Falcons then scored the final five points to pull out the victory, with Paige O’Connell’s kill getting match-point.
Mastellone led Firelands with 15 kills and added 14 digs. Morrissette had 16 digs and 12 kills and O’Connell ad 11 kills. Amanda Spears was 54-of-55 setting with 22 assists. Mykayla Walbom was 50-of-51 setting with 20 assists.
Jessica Lentz led the Rangers with 12 kills and 22 digs. Nicole Andrews and Emily Daveant added 18 and 16 digs, respectively.
Contact Steve Byrne at 329-7135 or email@example.com.