By Greg Gulas
It took Boardman High just three games to knock off arch-rival Austintown Fitch in a girls volleyball match Saturday at the Spartans Gymnasium.
The lessons both teams learned outside the black lines, however, were everlasting.
Boardman (11-9) stopped the Falcons (14-7), 25-16, 25-15 and 27-25 in their annual “Volley for the Cure” game. It’s a contest between the two schools that promotes cancer awareness and raises funds for the local Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Care Center.
“Today, both teams had an excellent opportunity to just take a step back and think about the many issues in life that people face on a daily basis,” Boardman coach Danielle Siembida said. “It’s also a great feeling to know that all funds raised will stay with our local philanthropy.”
In addition to a bake sale, basket raffles and a 50-50 raffle, the two schools collectively sold nearly 500 t-shirts within their respective communities.
“My father passed away after a fight with cancer and this past summer, one of our team members, sophomore Sarah Obradovich, also lost her mother to cancer as well. Cancer touches everyone,” Falcons coach Steve Mohr said. “This game was a great way to help spread the word about much-needed funds for cancer research.”
With a sign in the background that read “Supporting the Fighters; Admiring the Survivors,” Boardman’s Katie Seeco reeled off four points in the opening game for a 21-18 advantage as the Spartans took the opener, 25-16.
Krista Johnson then staked Boardman to the early 5-0 lead, adding two points later for a 19-10 margin as the Spartans took the second contest, 25-15.
Trailing by a 24-21 count in the third game, Seeco then reeled off three points for a 25-24 lead with co-captain Faith Saunders putting the game away on her final serve of the afternoon.
“There definitely was plenty of emotion surrounding the game and the many activities just pumped us up,” Saunders said. “It was a very important theme for both of our communities.”
Boardman’s Megan Volosin, who registered 15 kills, called the game special for two very big reasons.
“In addition to the theme, playing your arch-rival is also very special,” Volosin said. “Austintown Fitch is a scrappy group with a lot of excellent athletes. We had to stay tough physically and focused mentally if we expected to win.”
Obradovich, whose mother, Tiffany, lost her battle with cancer this past July, registered five kills for the Falcons.
“The game had special meaning for me for a variety of reasons and to see both teams came together for one great cause was definitely heartwarming,” Obradovich said.
Being swept was not what Mohr envisioned.
“We couldn’t get untracked or get a clean start in any game, which is very uncharacteristic of this team,” Mohr added. “Boardman is a good team that just had us confused. Their quick starts really hurt us.”
Those quick starts were the key, according to Siembida.
“At times this year we would start strong and lose our energy but that was not the case today,” she said. “The key was that we stayed aggressive and also kept our mistakes to a minimum.”
Katarina Lewis had 11 digs and seven assists, Alex Connors had three aces and Sydney Greenwood added two blocks for the Falcons.
Seeco registered 11 service points for Boardman. Volosin had 15 kills, Amanda Lipke had seven kills and four blocks and Saunders added 38 assists and 11 digs.