AKRON -- Nineteen area volleyball players put on quite a display at Ellet High School on Friday night, leading two teams to victory over players from Summit and Portage counties in the District 3 Senior All-Star games.
In the opening match, Elyria’s Chelsey Farris was dominant in leading the West to a 25-15, 25-11, 25-22 win with 14 kills, five block-kills and a pair of aces on her way to being named MVP.
“My coach (Jen Shouse) texted me and told me to go out there, do the best I could and have fun,” said Farris, who had a couple of conversations with college coaches after the match. “I’ve played with a couple of these girls before, so they knew where to get me the ball.”
North Ridgeville’s Kara Sullinger was a Junior Olympic teammate of Farris and it showed as she had a team-high 14 assists to go with three kills and an ace.
“She’s a phenomenal player and it was an honor to be out there with her today,” Sullinger said of Farris. “The tempo can be a little slow in a game like this, but you could see things speeding up and getting better in the second game.”
Black River’s all-time setting leader, Erica Benson, also had a front row seat to Farris’ firepower at the net. Firelands’ Brianna Bowyer, Elyria Catholic’s Hayley Raible and Lorain’s Seven Townsel had four kills each.
“This was a blast and it was one of the best things ever,” Benson said. “We were really having a lot of fun and I’ve never seen a hitter like her (Farris). We don’t get to play against people of her caliber and she was such a big help to our team.”
The West had to work a little harder in the second match before pulling out a 28-26, 26-24, 19-25 victory for a clean sweep for the locals.
Two Amherst players led the way for the West in the second match as Payton Jackson and Tory Small were so dominant they were named co-MVPs.
“It’s awesome to be able to share this with Tory. She really deserved this,” said Jackson, who had 10 kills, two aces and a block-kill. “I can’t believe the season is really over. It’s been a great four years in an Amherst uniform.”
Small had nine kills and six block-kills against a talented hitting squad from the East.
“It’s been a lot of hard work and dedication for the last four years, but it was all worth it,” said Small, who recently earned a scholarship from Mount Union Nazarene. “This is my favorite thing to do and I’m glad I got to do it with such great people.”
With the match in hand, Columbia coach Tony Tahan mixed things up and put this year’s Miss Volleyball winner, Erin Gardner, on the front row after four years as a libero for Avon.
She responded with her first two blocks and a swinging kill in four years in an Eagles uniform.
“This is what it’s all about, being able to go out there and play alongside some girls that I’ve become good friends with over the years,” said Gardner, who will play in the state all-star game at Wooster on Sunday.
“There isn’t any pressure in something like this. Just go out there and have fun playing a game that I love.”
Contact James Brady at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
West 25-25-25, East 15-11-22
KILLS: (W) Chelsey Farris (Elyria) 14, Brianna Bowyer (Firelands) 4, Hayley Raible (Elyria Catholic) 4, Seven Townsel (Lorain) 4, Erica Benson (Black River) 3, Kara Sullinger (N. Ridgeville) 3, McKenna Turton (Firelands) 1
ASSISTS: (W) Sullinger 14, Turton 8, Benson 4
DIGS: (W) Hannah White (Black River) 4, Hannah Reynolds (Firelands) 2, Townsel 2, Farris 1
ACES: (W) Reynolds 2, Townsel 2, Farris 2, Benson 1, Sullinger 1
BLOCK-KILLS: (W) Farris 5, Bowyer 3, Benson 2, Townsel 1
West 28-26-19, East 15-11-22
KILLS: (W) Payton Jackson (Amherst) 10, Tory Small (Amherst) 9, Sarah Wiegand (Amherst) 3, Hannah Paukovich (Columbia) 2, Baylee Min (Brookside) 1, Erin Gardner (Avon) 1, Tate Rybarczyk (Avon Lake) 1, Kaitlynn Krupinski (Columbia) 1
ASSISTS: (W) Krupinski 13, Lindsey Miller (Brookside) 11, Paukovich 1
DIGS: (W) Gardner 4, Rybarczyk 3, Sarah Robinson (Columbia) 3, Krupinski 2, Min 2
ACES: (W) Gardner 2, Rybarczyk 2, Jackson 2, Krupinski 1, Paukovich 1
BLOCK-KILLS: (W) Small 6, Gardner 2, Paukovich 2, Wiegand 1, Jackson 1, Miller 1