The Nordonia High School volleyball team started the 2016 season recently with a trio of non-conference matches against tough opponents. The Lady Knights put forth tremendous effort in all three contests, winning one of the three.
Nordonia opened the new campaign Aug. 20, against Mentor on the road.
"We knew this was going to be a competitive match, as Mentor is an experienced program with some decent size at the net," said Nordonia head coach Andrea Ciavarelli.
In addition, sophomore outside hitter Megan Alders, the Lady Knights' only returning varsity hitter, rolled her ankle at practice two weeks prior and was sidelined. As a result, Nordonia was forced play with a lineup of all new varsity hitters.
The Lady Knights edged Mentor in the first set, 27-25. However, they weren't able to maintain that momentum, and they dropped the next three sets by scores of 21-25, 9-25, and 11-25.
"This team still gave everything it had," said Ciavarelli. "It was an encouraging start to the season."
Nordonia junior setter Faith Banks racked up 35 assists, nine digs, and four aces to lead the Knights, while freshman outside hitter Maddie Knight contributed 12 kills and junior Carly Adams added nine kills. In addition, senior libero Alexis Perney had 18 digs and was 27-of-30 on serve receive and junior Sandra Spellman was 27-of-29 on serve receive.
On Aug. 23, Nordonia visited Revere. It was a close match, but the Lady Knights fell in straight sets 23-25, 23-25, 17-25.
"We did a lot of good things during this match and held the lead several times, but we had trouble keeping it," said Ciavarelli. "We made too many errors and struggled to score."
Banks paced Nordonia with 19 assists and 10 digs, while Perney posted 23 digs and was 31-of-32 on serve receive. Knight accounted for 12 kills, and Adams chipped in with five kills.
On Aug. 25, Nordonia played its first home match of the new season, as the Lady Knights welcomed Valley Forge to town. Nordonia notched its first victory, prevailing by the score of 25-15, 25-20, 25-21.
"This was a great match for us," said Ciavarelli. "We were able to fix a lot of the mistakes from our previous two matches."
Alders was available for the Valley Forge contest, racking up 14 kills, while Knight posted another 11 kills. Other major contributors for the Lady Knights included Banks (40 assists, 10 digs, two aces) and freshman middle hitter Dominique Evans (nine kills, four blocks).
Nordonia, a member of the National Conference of the Suburban League, is slated to start the conference portion of its schedule this week.
The Lady Knights were set to host conference foe Hudson on Aug. 30, but results were not available at press time.
On Sept. 1, Nordonia will travel to conference rival Stow-Munroe Falls. Varsity match is set for 7 p.m.
"We know how tough our conference is, but these girls are ready," said Ciavarelli. "Our goal is to improve each time we play and compete as hard as we can."