After slow start, Cards rally for 18th
By Greg Gulas
By defeating Boardman’s volleyball team on Monday, Canfield remains on pace with Hubbard in the All-American Conference’s Red Tier.
It wasn’t easy. After dropping the opening set 25-23, the Cardinals (18-3, 12-1) came back to take the final three sets (25-20, 25-17 and 25-23) for their ninth consecutive victory.
Heading into the game, Canfield had lost just three sets during their eight-game win streak.
“After the first set, Coach [Maria Householder] told us that we looked like we weren’t having any fun, to pick it up and just work as a team,” said Natalie Maras, who made 11 blocks. “We all knew how big this game was. Tonight was a must-win.”
With Canfield leading 13-10 in the opening set on the strength of Lily Economus’ three consecutive points, Kaylin Burkey’s four points led a 9-3 run by the Spartans (17-4, 9-4) as they forged a 19-16 lead.
Three more points by Economus knotted the game at 23-all, but Ashley Clark scored the final point for a 25-23 victory and a 1-0 Boardman advantage.
Burkey finished with 16 kills and 18 digs to lead Boardman.
“We had a lot of energy and were hyped-up because it was ‘Senior Night’ for us,” Spartans head coach Danielle Siembida said. “Canfield picked it up after that first set.
“We were outsized and they had more experience as we have two freshmen middles and a freshman setter, two things that are tough to overcome,” Siembida said. “Take nothing away from Canfield because they are a good team.
“All losses are tough, but this was a great team effort and that’s all you can ask of the players. We tell them what we want out of every game is to compete and they definitely did that tonight.”
Canfield mounted their comeback in the second set as they built a 19-14 advantage on Amanda Blanco’s service point. The Cards weathered a 6-1 run by the Spartans for a 20-20 deadlock only to reel off the final five points for a 25-20 victory.
“We’re peaking right now as a team and the more we play together, the more trust we have and the better we play as a team,” Morgan Cleevely said. “We just need to pick up our energy level on the road.”
Cleevely finished with 16 digs.
The Cardinals built a 15-7 lead in the third game, holding on for a 25-17 victory.
Three points by Boardman’s Brigita Ositis pulled the Spartans even at 23-23 in the fourth game. Cleevely scored the final point for a 25-23 victory and the 27th win in their last 31 sets.
“After that first game, I’m thinking that we had better start playing like we are capable of playing,” Householder said. “We were 17 points into the game and only had three kills because we weren’t doing our job. We weren’t passing, setting or putting the ball away.
“In the second game we adjusted our defense, going from a perimeter defense to a rotation defense and it really helped,” she said. “We haven’t won the league title in the last three years and our win today will go a long way in helping us achieve that goal.”
The Cardinals swept the season series from the Spartans.
Alexis Metille had eight kills and three aces. Grace Mangapora scored 15 points and Alyssa Householder 19 assists and 10 points to pace the Cardinals.
Reagan Burkey added 39 assists and three aces for the Spartans, who had their four-game win streak snapped.