By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
HARPERSFIELD TOWNSHIP —
St. John volleyball coach Stephanie Kubec has wanted the Heralds to play with a bit of swagger when it comes time to put away a game or a match.
Reilly DeGeorge provided just enough attitude to give St. John a 25-16, 35-33, 25-22 victory over Ledgemont at Spire on Monday.
“She wants to swing away at everything,” Kubec said. “It is gorgeous (when she gets in a groove). I do love it when she swings away.”
“It is what it is,” Ledgemont coach Dave Jones said. “They beat us. Stephanie is the boss. She deserves all the credit. Stephanie is very good at what she does.”
Before DeGeorge could assert herself, however, senior Mackenzie Stenroos gave the Heralds a spark with five kills an ace tip and an ace block to give St. John the win in the first game.
The Heralds (9-0) used two kills and an ace block from Stenroos, an ace serve from Emily Powers and a kill from Alicia Ngiraingas to turn a 6-5 deficit into a 9-5 advantage. St. John held that lead the rest of the game.
“I’m proud of my seniors,” Kubec said. “They were huge. My seniors were the key. Those two played big.”
In the second game, the Redskins (10-2) took leads of 7-3, 9-4, 10-5 and 12-7. Several miscues a kill from Ngiraingas and an ace block from Mallory Shellenberger gave St. John a 13-12 lead.
It was Shellenberger and Ngiraingas who would prove important throughout the match, filling the void left by Alivia Cimorelli, who is out for the next week after slamming her finger in a car door.
“(Kubec) told us we had to step up,” Shellenberger said. “We had one less senior and we had to focus.”
“We had to try and pick it up as a team and try not to get down on ourselves,” Ngiraingas said.
Shellenberger finished the night with five kills on 10 of 11 spiking and three aces on 11 of 11 blocking in her first big chance to make an impact. Ngiraingas was 15 of 19 spiking with seven kills.
“The Shellenberger girl did a nice job,” Jones said. “Where did she come from?”
“Mallory really stepped up her game,” DeGeorge said. “We needed her and she really played a big role.”
“She’s been hurt all season,” Kubec said. “She just got back last week. We really didn’t have a spot for her. She had to fight for spot. She played well on JV last week and I told her to keep doing a good job and she’d have a chance. It was just chance that Alivia got hurt.
“(Mallory) wants it. She had some key blocks and some key hits. I’m so proud of her.”
Ledgemont took advantage of several St. John mistakes and led, 20-17, but an ace tip and a kill from Stenroos had the Heralds up, 23-20.
Kills from Jessica Fontana kept the Redskins in the game, knotting the score at 24-24, 25-25 and 26-26. Ledgemont took the advantage, 31-30, its first lead since 20-19, on a Fontana kill. After a Stenroos kill, Fontana gave the Redskins the 32-31 lead with one of her own.
Shellenberger tied the game again, 32-32, with a kill before giving way to DeGeorge, who scored the last three Herald points on kills, sandwiched around another by Fontana.
“We wanted it, we pushed it and we worked as a team,” DeGeorge said.
“Losing that set took the wind from our sails,” Jones said. “I think if we win that set, it goes the other way in Game 3.”
That victory was big for the Heralds.
“That was the key right there,” Kubec said. “That really deflated them. It could have gone either way. That was huge emotionally for us. If we’d have lost, it would have been the first set we lost this year and who knows how we would have reacted?”
DeGeorge’s momentum sparked the Heralds to start the third game, as well. She had eight kills as St. John took a big lead at 20-6. Fontana, though, sparked the Redskins with ace spikes on consecutive points to make it 20-8. She added a kill and an ace block later on consecutive points to make it 22-14. She made it 22-17 with another ace block and 22-20 with an ace spike.
Fontana finished the night with 10 kills.
“She’s a leader,” Jones said. “She’s just a great kid.”
Reilly DeCato stopped the bleeding for the Heralds with an ace block. An ace tip from DeDeorge closed the victory for the Heralds.
“My girls fought hard,” Jones said. “That second set was a heartbreaker. They never gave up and I’m fine with that.”
DeGeorge finished with 19 kills on 52 of 53 spiking and Stenroos was 27 of 29 spiking with 10 kills.
Cassandra Ohler had nine kills, Alivia Sidley had four and Jessica Conklin added three for the Redskins.
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.