By TIM CLEVELAND
Playing Ravenna Tuesday night in a Division II sectional volleyball semifinal, Poland didn’t let the fact the Ravens entered the match winless on the season distract it from snatching the momentum in each game as the Bulldogs took a 25-14, 25-7, 25-11 victory.
“Volleyball is definitely a game of momentum,” Poland coach Sarah Gerberry said. “I told the girls at the beginning of the game to make sure they serve aggressively and if you keep your serves in, things will fall into place. You’ll start passing well and playing well, and that’s what happened tonight.”
Poland (7-17) took 4-0 leads in the first two games and never let Ravenna get back in either one. Arlia Duarte had three kills in Game 1 for a 20-11 lead, then Allison Berend added two more to help the Bulldogs close it out.
Duarte said she’s earned her spot in the middle for the Bulldogs.
“I’ve been working for that spot since my freshman year,” said Duarte, a junior. “I’m excited that this year I really came alive. It’s nice when you have a team behind you that’s also contributing. It makes it a lot easier when your whole team works as one.”
In Game 2, Chloe Bush had a kill to give Poland a 5-1 lead, then she served 11 consecutive points – including three aces – to give Poland a commanding 16-1 advantage.
“It was a real good game; we worked hard,” Bush said. “With everyone else contributing to the kills and good passes, it was a lot easier for me to serve. I had my team behind me helping me out and the encouragement from everyone else.”
“Chloe has really stepped up this year,” Gerberry said. “She’s definitely our No. 1 server in aces and points. When she gets going, she goes.”
Gerberry added that Bush and Duarte have been in synch during the season.
“Arlia has been our dominant force,” Gerberry said. “If Chloe’s serving well, Arlia’s hitting well. It’s one after the other; it’s the momentum of the game. The team really plays off of that.”
Ravenna (0-20) had a 3-1 lead in the third game, but the advantage was short lived. Duarte had seven points for a 9-3 lead, with five aces. She tacked on a kill for a 17-8 lead.
Ravenna coach Bobbi Ross said after a winless regular season, she and the Ravens wanted to have fun in their postseason contest.
“We just wanted to have fun and enjoy our last game,” she said. “We knew it was going to be rough and with the season we’ve had, we just wanted to enjoy the last one.”
Freshman Jen Eich served the final four points for the Bulldogs. She had 11 points and four aces overall.