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Younger players step up for Woodridge volleyball

by Roger Gordon | Correspondent Published: September 25, 2016 12:00 AM

Injuries to two key players have caused Woodridge volleyball head coach Melinda Hosford to juggle her lineup a bit.

First, junior right side hitter Alyssa Smith sprained her ankle Sept. 17 against Rocky River and will be out of action for another week or two.

Then, on Sept. 19 against Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, senior outside hitter Makayla Sypherd hurt her lower back and hip and is day-to-day.

"People kind of had to fill in at different positions," Hosford said. "It took a little while for the girls to get adjusted, but they stepped up to where I needed them to play."

The most glaring example was on Sept. 20 in a 22-25, 25-17, 25-8, 25-13 victory at Portage Trail Conference Metro Division rival Ravenna. Hosford inserted three junior varsity players - freshman defensive specialist Lily Bowman, freshman middle hitter Jacierra Arnett and sophomore outside/right side hitter Brayden Wigal.

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"Brayden, in her very first varsity match, played very well all around," said Hosford. "She was one of my best passers in the back row."

Wigal had two kills, three aces and three digs, while Arnett totaled nine aces, two blocks and five digs.

Arnett's sister, Breanna, a senior outside hitter, had 23 kills, nine digs and a block. Junior setter Kaela Folatko had 40 assists, three kills and five aces.

Junior middle blocker Ella Lathem, normally a defensive specialist, had four aces, three digs and five kills. Junior outside hitter Celina Whitely, normally a middle hitter, had nine kills, four aces and seven digs.

The week began Sept. 15 with a 25-17, 23-25, 25-15, 25-10 triumph over Metro Division foe Akron Springfield.

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"The girls got a little ahead of themselves, thinking maybe it was going to be easier than it was," said Hosford. "But then they came to life in the third set and did a good job the rest of the way."

Arnett had 22 kills, 15 digs and two aces, while Sypherd had 10 kills, eight aces, 16 digs and a block. Whitely totaled 10 digs, four blocks, two kills, an assist and an ace.

The Bulldogs took part in the eight-team Chagrin Falls Invitational Sept. 17, beginning with a 25-23, 25-19 defeat to Rocky River.

"It was a close match," said the coach. "We had them for awhile, but then we slowly came undone starting late in the first set. We began missing some serves. We're struggling in the back row, too."

In its second match of the day Woodridge fell to Chagrin Falls 25-18, 25-16.

"We were just flat the whole way around," Hosford said. "We were missing serves and we had a lack of communication. It was a very quiet gym and we didn't have any energy. It was a rough match."

The Bulldogs did not leave Chagrin Falls empty-handed as they finished in seventh place due to a victory over Shaker Heights in which they won the first set, lost the second but won the third.

"We were strong at the net, hitting aggressively," Hosford said. "The back-row communication was better. Senior middle hitter Hannah Fitzsimmons had some strong blocks when we needed them."

The week concluded Sept. 19 with a tough loss at home to St. Vincent-St. Mary by a score of 18-25, 25-23, 25-19, 25-22.

"The girls came out on fire, really wanting to take St. V," Hosford said. "We'd played them over the summer and beat them, so we were looking forward to another good match. The girls were just pounding the ball and digging things up, doing a great job in the first set. And then they looked like they'd used up all their energy reserves they needed to continue to push through for the last three sets."

Fitzsimmons had four aces. "Hannah usually struggles with her serves, but she had an amazing serving match," the coach said. "She took us from 18-17 down to win the first set 25-18, serving the last eight points."

Lathem had five digs, a kill and a block.

Woodridge took a 3-7 overall record and 3-3 PTC Metro mark into a home match against Metro Division rival Streetsboro Sept. 22.

The Bulldogs were set to take part in a tri-match Sept. 24 with Uniontown Lake and host Youngstown Boardman. However, the results were not available at press time.

The Bulldogs host division foe Cloverleaf Sept. 27 and then travel to Field, another division rival, Sept. 29. Both matches begin at 7 p.m.

Email: mleonard@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9442

Facebook: MLeonardRPC


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