OLMSTED TWP. — Avon’s volleyball team faced a challenge to its hold on first place in the Southwestern Conference on Thursday.
Well, in theory, anyway.
On the court, it wasn’t that much of a test as the Eagles turned the highly anticipated first-place battle with Olmsted Falls into a one-sided affair.
Avon only trailed for 11 points all night in sweeping the Bulldogs 25-22, 25-15, 25-19 while ending Falls’ 12-match winning streak in the process.
The Eagles (11-2, 10-0 SWC) moved two games clear of the Bulldogs and Westlake in league play.
“This was a total team effort,” Avon coach Julie Bendzuck said. “Meghan Waters played the game of her life in middle-back and Ashlee Torbert at right-back defense was great. Our offense naturally comes when our defense is on, and defense is what beats really good teams.”
The trio of libero Alex Laboy, Torbert and Waters combined for 48 digs, many of the chase-down variety to keep the ball alive for the offense. Laboy had 21, Torbert dug out 15 and Waters added 12.
“I was a little surprised to see some of those balls come back from the back row,” said senior setter Maddy Jerdonik, who had 28 assists. “They just chased everything down. They worked super hard and really kept us going. This was a total team effort.”
The first set could have gone either way with Falls leading 18-17 after a Grace Simon block-kill, but the Bulldogs (13-2, 8-2) gave up six of the next seven points with unforced errors. The Eagles picked up the first-set win on a Sydney Stone kill.
“Games like this show you why you really love the game,” said Stone, who will be playing at Division I LaSalle next year. “There were insane student sections, an insane crowd and getting huge blocks or big kills just made tonight so surreal.”
Stone finished with 10 kills while teammate Gillian Romanchok led everyone with 18 kills with almost all of the damage coming on outside hitting.
“Coming into this we knew this was going to be a high-intensity game and they (Falls) really wanted to beat us and we had to give it all we had,” Romanchok said. “I wasn’t really nervous. I was actually pretty calm and let’s just get out there and play.”
The second set was much like the first as Avon clung to a 12-10 lead before pulling away down the stretch with a 13-5 run. A lot of the action came in the middle as Katie Koziarz started by getting a block on the Bulldogs’ Jeannie Edgington and then added a couple of middle-kills.
“It was just a couple little things like moving over just a little and the back row calling out defensive help,” said Koziarz, who finished five kills and four block-kills. “Getting a couple of blocks really picks up the morale and gives us a lot of momentum to push through the game.”
Falls looked like it might force a fourth set leading 16-15 following a Lindsey LaPinta ace, but Romanchok took control, pushing the Eagles to the win with six kills in the final nine Avon points, including the match-clincher.
“I’m very proud of the way our kids played tonight,” Bendzuck said. “It’s hot, it’s loud and they (Bulldogs) have really good fans. I really liked the way we came out and controlled the match.”
Avon 25-25-25, Olmsted Falls 22-15-19
KILLS: (A) Gillian Romanchok 18, Sydney Stone 10; (OF) Kaye Dregalla 10, Liana Petitti 6, Jeannie Edgington 6
DIGS: (A) Alex Laboy 21, Ashlee Torbert 15, Meghan Waters 12; (OF) Lindsey LaPinta 16, Dregalla 16
ASSISTS: (A) Maddy Jerdonik 28; (OF) Emma O’Brien 30
ACES: (A) Katie Sopko 3; (OF) Halle Slater 2
BLOCK-KILLS: (A) Katie Koziarz 4; (OF) Edgington 2