Stow -- It was a busy week for the Stow-Munroe Falls volleyball team, as Bulldogs had business to attend to with its two rivals.
The host Stow-Munroe Falls volleyball team completed a season sweep against Hudson after posting a 25-21, 20-25, 25-22, 22-25, 15-6 victory at James G. Tyree Gymnasium in Stow.
Between the two rivalry games, Stow lost to Solon 26-24, 26-24, 25-18 Oct. 5 on the road.
Despite a flat start Oct. 6 at Cuyahoga Falls, Stow was able to score a 27-25, 25-23, 25-18 win.
The Bulldogs improved to 14-7, 9-4 in the Suburban League National Conference.
"Hudson is a team that we really don't want to see," Stow head coach Miguel Ramirez said. "They play solid defense and are well-coached. They post a lot of matchup problems."
The Lady Bulldogs scored five consecutive points to take an 8-3 lead in the fifth set and then scored the final five points to end the match.
Four of those last five points took place on the serve of junior outside hitter/defensive specialist Kendall Feldman.
Prior to the fifth set, it was nip and tuck the entire way.
The match was tied at 21 in the first set before the Lady Bulldogs closed the deal with four straight points.
The last three points came on the serve of Stow sophomore setter Lauren Fair.
In the second set, the Lady Bulldogs got some scary news when one of their top front-row players went down with an injury.
Junior outside hitter Julia DiPaola suffered an ankle injury with her team trailing 6-5.
After a short delay, the Lady Explorers seemed rejuvenated.
Hudson went on a 10-0 run to take a commanding 17-6 lead. Junior outside hitter Dani Turner had the last nine service points during the spurt for the Lady Explorers.
But Stow roared back and was down just two (22-20) after a kill by sophomore outside hitter Lizzy Stefanov.
However, Hudson scored the next three points as the Lady Bulldogs made some untimely errors down the stretch.
The third set was close the entire way.
Stow senior outside hitter Lauren Turschak delivered in the clutch when she smashed home a kill on set point.
The Lady Bulldogs trailed most of the fourth set, but they cut their deficit to one (23-22) after a Stefanov kill.
But the Lady Explorers got a kill and a block by senior middle hitter Alena Madar to send the match to a decisive fifth set.
Stefanov led Stow with 18 kills and senior middle hitter Marie Cistone, who got some major minutes after DiPaola suffered her injury, had nine blocks for the Lady Bulldogs.
"Lizzy plays a game that is well above her years," Ramirez said. "She does so many things well. She is extremely gifted athletically. If we asked her set, she probably could."
Also contributing for Stow were defensive specialist Alyssa Tallarico (20 digs), Fair (23 assists), junior outside hitter Jacy Guider (20 assists), Feldman (two aces) and sophomore defensive specialist Claire O'Verko (two aces).
As the statistics show, Ramirez feels comfortable with just about any of his players on the floor.
The Lady Bulldogs honored Turschak, Cistone and senior middle hitter/right-side hitter Kaylie Yaceczko before the match.
The Black Tigers came out firing Oct. 6 against Stow, buoyed by a large crowd that turned out in pink for "Volley for the Cure" night in support of breast cancer research.
Led by Emma Freeman's hitting, Falls took a big early lead, running out to a 12-4 lead before Stow started coming back.
Stow slowly reeled Falls in before tying the first set at 22-22 on a kill from Turschak.
To its credit, Falls fought off a pair of set points for Stow, but the Bulldogs took the first set at 27-25 when the officials ruled a Falls' kill attempt went outside the antenna.
Set two was a much tighter affair, though Freeman again helped Falls take the early lead.
With DiPaola down, Stow got a major lift from Feldman, who stepped into the outside hitter role. Feldman answered the call with seven kills on the night, four of which came in the second set.
"We're a pretty deep team this year," Ramirez said. "It's a 'next woman up' thing. I don't think we could have sustained an injury in previous years and just kept going."
Stow's primary hitter on the night Stefanov, who seemed to swing with more aggression after not getting a kill call midway through the second set.
Stefanov led Stow with 10 kills.
Stefanov's kill gave Stow a lead at 23-22 and set two went to the Bulldogs when Falls' Tylir Saxon put her kill out of bounds.
Unlike the first two sets, Stow raced out to a 6-0 lead in set three off a block from Maria Cistone, forcing Stewart to call timeout.
Falls never got close to the lead in the set, however, thanks to good serving by Stow.
Falls could not return a wicked drop serve from O'Verko on match point, giving Stow the match.
Fair and Guider each had seven assists. Tallarico had 19 digs, while Cistone had three blocks.
Stow will close out the regular season at Brecksville-Broadview Heights Oct. 11 at 7 p.m.