By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP —
Prizefighters are often photographed staring each other down prior to a fight. Mostly, it’s only for show.
The St. John and Edgewood volleyball teams did their best impression of boxers staring each other down with their play Wednesday at Edgewood. The Warriors made the Heralds blink first and carried through for a 25-19, 25-20, 21-25, 25-17.
“There were long rallies, people on both sides were digging the ball left and right,” Edgewood coach Dave Fowler said. “It was a matter of whether you were going to make a mistake or make them make a mistake. It was tremendous. It was also emotionally draining, though.”
“They kept the ball in play at crucial times when they needed a sideout,” St. John coach Stephanie Kubec said. “They kept playing and kept playing and sat and waited for us to make errors.”
The Edgewood defense stayed strong and forced the Heralds (18-3) to break first.
“That’s what we expect,” Fowler said. “Eighty percent of what we work on in practice is getting the ball to the setter. In this game, if you can pass and dig, you can play with anybody.
“Passing can beat you any night. It’s all predicated on that first touch.”
And the Warriors (19-1), starting with libero Abby Pisano, were able to get a good first touch all the way through the first two games.
“She does not shy away, “ Fowler said. “She will not defer to anyone. She plays balls that aren’t even hers. She shanked a couple tonight, but she just kept playing balls.
“It’s a good thing to have a libero who will play balls and not defer.”
Pisano was 74 of 85 passing with 54 aces.
“(Defense) was very important,” she said. “It won the game for us. Our front line is so good, we (as defenders) need to help out. Without the digs, we can’t win.
“Taylor (Diemer), me, Gia (Saturday) and Brittany (Lefik) do really well together.”
The Heralds were not quite as adept as the Warriors at avoiding mistakes.
“We made so many unforced errors,” Kubec said. “They’d give us a free ball and we’d run into each other. Our hitters weren’t ready at the net. Those are errors we don’t usually make.”
Edgewood opened the match on a 6-1 run, but the Heralds battled back to tie it, 18-18. On the next point, St. John was called for a lift. The Warriors scored the next four points.
The Heralds were able to take a 17-15 advantage in the second game. Two kills from Judith Silvieus and a St. John passing error the lead back to the Warriors, 18-17. Pisano added an ace serve and Katie Thomas had a kill to extend the advantage to 21-17.
“It was tied twice and we served it out of bounds,” Kubec said. “I think we had three or four unforced errors in a row. It would hit the net and we’d let it drop. We were making errors and it cost us at key times.”
As per usual, Katie Thomas paced the Warriors with 17 aces on 37 of 43 spiking. But she had some serious help from Silvieus and Diemer. Diemer had 16 kills on 38 of 43 spiking and Silvieus had 11 aces on 33-of-39 spiking.
“I was finding open spots,” Diemer said. “I was trying to hit that open hole and we had really good setting.”
“I watched and saw the open areas on the court and aimed toward it,” Silvieus said.
Reilly DeGeorge led the Heralds with 11 aces on 35-of-43 spiking.
“For a long time now, we were ready for this,” the freshman hitter said. “We’ve been preparing and worked our hardest. We played hard, it just wasn’t there.”
Mackenzie Stenroos added nine kills on 36 of 47 spiking and Alivia Cimorelli had nine kills 26 of 28 spiking.
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.
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