By RICH KELLY
For the Star Beacon
ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP —
Game experience, especially at the varsity level, can be an invaluable tool for building both a team and a program. Having played the Niles McKinley Red Dragons early in the season, Edgewood coach Dave Fowler knew what his team was up against Monday night when McKinley paid a visit to Ashtabula Township. Fowler was able to get many of his younger junior varsity players some varsity time as the Warriors dismantled the Red Dragons, 25-11, 25-22, and 25-19.
“We had played them earlier in the season and didn’t have too much trouble,” Fowler said. “It’s later in the season, though, and they have gotten much better, but so have we. My plan was to get some game time at the varsity level for some of our younger girls, and I was able to do that with some success tonight.”
That made substitutions interesting and put some girls in awkward situations.
“We did have some tricky rotations tonight,” Fowler said. “Generally, though, I was pleased with how we played. All the people who touched the ball made good plays to keep the ball active, which is what I wanted to see. Plugging girls into strange spots on the floor can look rough, but it gives them some experience for future use. That’s how solid programs are built.”
Deadlocked at 4-4 after a Katie Thomas kill in the first game, Judith Silvieus (15 points) served up five points in a row, including a pair of aces and a pair of Thomas kills, to open a 9-4 lead.
From that point on, only a brief spurt at the start of the second game slowed the Warrior efforts.
A pair of Adriana Kowal dinks opened a 5-3 lead for the Red Dragons (2-17). After a Taylor Hawkins slam tied it at 7-7, Hawkins untied it with block at the net and Taylor Diemer served up an ace to extend it to 9-7.
It took an eight-point run by the Red Dragons, seven from Cori Lawson’s serving, to cut the lead near the end of the game. Lawson led the scoring for McKinley with 12 points.
Up only a point, 23-22, Diemer closed out the second game with a kill and an ace serve.
An Anna Applebee dink gave the Warriors (18-1) a 16-13 lead in the third game, Silvieus fired a trio of aces in a 5-0 run to make it 21-13, and there wasn’t enough energy left to make things interesting.
“We just don’t have enough good experience on our team to be consistently solid,” McKinley coach Susanne Neal said. “All we can do is take the good stuff as it comes along, try to learn from what goes wrong and improve as a team. As that happens, our confidence will also grow and we’ll get better. We’ve had a bad habit of giving up too many easy points.
“Tonight, we didn’t give up as many as we have. Still, we played Edgewood before and knew they were a good team. All we can do is try to improve.”
Silvieus led the point Warriors’ parade with 15 points, Jaime Rogers added 13 and Haley Holden came off the bench to tally 14. Diemer led ths attack with 22-of-24 spiking and 11 kills and Thomas sent home 16 of 19 spikes with 12 aces, most of them early to set the tone early in the match,
Kelly is a freelance writer from Jefferson.
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