Lake Catholic ousts Hubbard in D-II volleyball
By ERIC FORTUNE
Volleyball can be a game of momentum.
If Hubbard had gotten a couple of breaks in the opening set against the Mentor Lake Catholic on Wednesday night, Ohio State commit Adria Powell and the Eagles might still be playing.
Instead, they fell 27-25, 25-22, and 25-17 in a Division II district semifinal.
Powell, a junior, plans to graduate high school a year early.
“She might be the top one or two players in the state of Ohio,” Hubbard coach Jeremy Porter said. “She’s a special player. Probably someone that you might not see in our area ever again. She’s probably [among the] top five that I’ve seen in the last 20 years in Youngs-town.”
The Eagles had an early 8-4 advantage in the opening set only to be outscored 15-6.
The Eagles (22-2) battled back to tie it up at 22 and were only one point away from the taking the first set before the Cougars (13-11) made the big plays down the stretch.
“We win that first game obviously it’s a different match,” Porter said. “We gave it our best shot there. A couple of breaks went their way there.”
Mentor Lake Catholic coach Richard Severino felt his team could win this matchup in three games, but came away surprised at the Eagles’ defense.
I really did,” Severino said. “I knew they had the one hitter [Powell]. I didn’t know they were going to play that good of defense. Their defense kept them in the match. We played flat. We made a ton of hitting errors in the first two sets.
“If we lose that first game, they get all kinds of momentum. If we gave them a little spark, we could have had our hands full, especially with a hitter like that. I told my kids at the end of sets, we can’t be down two or three and she comes into the front row. We’re in trouble. We’re not blocking her.”
Powell presented issues for the Cougars for much of the first two sets as she finished with 23 kills and two blocks. Kristin Fahndrich added 30 assists.
“I’ve played club against some of those girls and with them and I’m used to playing at a high level,” Powell said. “I knew how to swing around a big middle. We just found a way to slide out and they knew they were getting the ball to me and I just swung around the block and put it down.”
Severino tried making adjustments moving players to combat what Powell was doing as the Eagles again led 8-4 in the second set. Again, the Cougars made a run in which they seized control.
“She’s [Powell] very good at hitting around the block,” Severino said. “She did a really nice job of that. If we blocked the line, she hit hard across court. If we tried to block the ball, she went around the block. Not many hitters see the block as well as she did.”
Hubbard got it to 21-20 but couldn’t get the big shots it needed and fell 25-22 in the second set.
In the third set, the Eagles jumped out to a quick 3-0 advantage but again the Cougars stormed and took a 16-8 advantage that was too much for Hubbard to overcome.
“They’re one of the top teams in the state,” Fahndrich said. “They’re going to go really far. I really respect them. It’s really hard against a good team like that to put them together and not get down. I think we played one of our best games.”
Silvia Genoni added 16 digs, seven points, five kills and an ace for Hubbard. Nya Thornton led the Eagles with 18 service points.