HUDSON — Regina Alvarez and Brooke Ramlow recently got a stern lecture from someone they know quite well.
"I challenged Brooke a week ago," Hudson head girls volleyball coach Brad Disandis said. "We just needed more from her. I challenged Regina, too."
As for the two outside hitters, their coach’s points were well taken.
And the Explorers got a thrilling conference win in the process.
Host Hudson earned a tense 19-25, 27-25, 15-25, 25-16, 15-12 victory over Twinsburg Thursday evening at Ray "Buck" Hyser Gymnasium.
With the win, the Explorers improved to 4-4 overall and 2-4 in the Suburban League National Conference. The Tigers dropped to 2-6 overall and 1-6 in the conference.
The match could have ended much earlier than it did.
Twinsburg led 16-10 in the second set and had three set points. However, Hudson made a furious comeback and after it looked like the Tigers regained their confidence and cruised in the third set, the Explorers, led by Alvarez and Ramlow, came through in the clutch.
Alvarez, a senior, put the match away with kills on the final two points and the left-handed Ramlow put four balls away in the final set.
"They really stepped up," Disandis said of his two outside hitters. "We needed Regina to go get balls. Everybody had a hand in it. We played some people that don’t play much and they helped the other girls regroup."
The Tigers did everything they could to disrupt the Ramlow/Alvarez show in the fifth set.
Senior outside hitter Simone Gest certainly did.
Gest had three straight kills from the left side to give Twinsburg an 11-10 lead. Unfortunately for Twinsburg, Gest, who finished with 11 kills and 16 digs, moved into the back row to serve and that allowed the Explorers to respectfully avoid her.
"I happened to coach Simone at JO [Junior Olympics] this past year," Disandis said. "She’s a great player. When she scored two or three points in a row, I called a time-out to figure out a game plan to slow her down. We got her out of rotation."
The Tigers also got stellar front-row play from sophomore Bryanna Curry (eight kills) in the middle and seniors Jill Spindler (15 digs, three kills and three aces) and Camryn Beskur-Fontaine (12 digs) dug just about everything and served well. Setters Ally Schank, a junior, and Kamaree Walker, a senior added 16 and 13 assists, respectively.
Nonetheless, Hudson, which looked to be completely rattled by Twinsburg’s shorter, but resilient lineup, had a little bit more in the tank when it mattered most.
"They always play hard," first-year Tigers head coach Jess Mazanetz said. "I never have to coach effort with these girls. We’re working on the execution part. They have a lot of heart."
Alvarez had 19 kills and three blocks and Ramlow contributed 11 kills, eight service points and three blocks.
Senior setter Lindsay Sadler finished with 56 assists and 10 service points and senior middle blocker Cami Madar had 10 points and four blocks for the Explorers.
Hudson also got stellar play from sophomore Morgan Gaeta (18 digs and eight points), freshman Anna Faust (11 digs and eight points), senior Kendall Mackay (34 digs), who played with a leg injury, and junior Amelia Hoffmeier (23 digs) in the back row.
Junior middle blocker Cailynn Sullivan and freshman outside hitter Allyson Yanaks added nine and eight kills, respectively, for the Explorers.
"Kendall hurt her ankle earlier this week," Disandis said. "Cami passed some balls and [freshman] Erica Kutchin played a couple of big points to give us a lift. It was good to walk away with the win after we struggled the first few sets."
As for Mazanetz, it’s about making sure her players keep their heads up when times get rough. Thursday was certainly a step in the right direction.
"Sometimes, when they get down, it’s hard for them to get out of it," Mazanetz said. "Every match, there is one or two sets where it all clicks. We just have to put it together and finish a match.
"Hudson is a very fair opponent. I thought the two teams were equal. We have to find a way to beat the teams we’re even with."
Disandis also has some familiarity with the opposing coach. And of course, he knows full well the Tigers never go down without fighting for their lives.
"I’ve known Jess for a long time," Disandis said. "She’s a very good coach. They play a scrappy defensive game and just keep balls alive."
The host Explorers lost to Stow-Munroe Falls 25-16, 19-25, 25-20, 25-23 in a National Conference showdown Tuesday.
Alvarez had 15 kills and three aces and Yanaks and Sullivan contributed 10 and eight kills, respectively.
Mackay added 26 digs and two aces and Sadler finished with 45 assists.
Also contributing for Hudson were Madar (six kills and five blocks), Ramlow (four kills and three blocks), Gaeta (11 digs) and Hoffmeier (10 digs).
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.