Boardman sweeps Fitch in D-I volleyball match.
By BOB ETTINGER
During tournament season, it’s imperative to establish an advantage early. It’s never easy to climb out of a hole.
With a strong start, the Boardman volleyball team did take that advantage and battled through some struggles in toppling Austintown Fitch, 25-15, 25-20, 25-23, in a Division I sectional semifinal at Lake High School on Tuesday night.
“I feel like we did start well in the first two games,” Boardman coach Danielle Siembida said. “In the first game, it was nice to have that momentum. It slowed down a bit. In the third game game we had some trouble. Our passing broke down and we had a hard time getting our offense going. We were able to come back halfway through and squeak out the win.”
The fifth-seeded Spartans (19-4) will battle fourth-seeded Massillon Perry in a sectional final at 7 p.m. Thursday.
“We scrimmaged them in August,” Siembida said. “They have some very good players. It will be a challenge, but we’re excited and looking forward to that challenge. We compete well. I feel we’ll be OK if we come and play well.”
Boardman opened the first game with a 7-1 lead behind ace serves from Raegan Burkey and Ashley Clark, a kill from Kaylin Burkey and a strange passing kill from the back row on the first point. The Falcons (9-14) never really got their footing.
“Unfortunately, that’s been an issue all season,” Fitch coach Jody Bartlett said. “We’ve had a hard time coming together as a team. It was our errors, mostly. We had a lot of passing errors and some hitting errors. If you look at the total team kills, it’s very, very low. We weren’t passing well. If you can’t pass, you can’t set it up to hit. It was just miscommunication.”
The Spartans were steady in the second game, but couldn’t really pull away despite the Falcons not getting a single kill until the score was 18-12.
“That was very frustrating,” Bartlett said. “I told them that when we called a timeout.”
The Spartans really had no such issues.
“We were seeing the game well,” Siembida said. “We were seeing their hitters and making good moves defensively. Our blockers were in good position and getting good touches.”
But Fitch opened the third game like a different team than had played the first two games in taking a 13-4 lead. Lainie Simons had a kill and an ace, Makayla Zetts had two kills and a block and Chelsie Wheeler had a block.
“We made some changes with who was on the floor and it definitely made a difference,” Bartlett said.
Three Kaylin Burkey kills, an ace from Maria Torres, two kills from Katie Stamp, a kill from Clark and an ace from Brigita Ositis knotted the score at 16. Two kills from Torres made it 21-19 in favor of the Spartans before a Boardman spiking miscue and an ace from Simons tied it up again at 21.
Two Fitch misplays and a Torres kill had it at 24-21 Boardman before consecutive kills from Khala Cameron and Simons closed the Falcons’ deficit to one, 24-23. Kaylin Burkey closed the match with a kill for the Spartans.