MACEDONIA — When the two teams played in the Northeast Ohio Conference several years ago, the Nordonia volleyball team could not solve the riddle known as Hudson.
Let’s just say the Knights are much more adept at solving this riddle now.
High-powered Nordonia cruised to a commanding 25-10, 25-15, 25-15 victory over the Explorers Thursday at Hugh Griffith Memorial Gymnasium in Macedonia.
With the win, the Knights improved to 5-2 overall and 1-1 in the Suburban League National Conference. Hudson, which dropped its second straight match, fell to 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the conrerence.
Nordonia struggled against the Explorers when Lori Snider first became the Knights’ head coach several years ago.
Since Snider returned to Macedonia for her second stint as head coach last year, Nordonia has had its way against its former NOC and current National Conference rival.
On this day, the Knights would have been formidable against anyone.
They dug just about everything, passed effectively, served extremely well and destroyed just about every ball in the front row.
It was quite a turnaround after a humbling 25-14, 25-14, 25-23 loss to perennial National Conference power Wadsworth Tuesday on the road.
"They played much better," Snider said. "We’re young and sometimes we struggle with consistency. But they’re coming around. We’ll get there. The girls are working really hard in practice."
As for the opposition, the Explorers lived a charmed life after winning a pair of five-set thrillers to start their season. Since then, Hudson has dropped six of its last seven sets en route to a pair of losses in three days.
In the Explorers’ defense, though, they faced some elite competition.
They lost to 2016 Division I state champion Brecksville-Broadview Heights, another National Conference rival, in four sets Tuesday on the road.
Hudson had some opportunities against the talented Bees. The Nordonia match, on the other hand, was a bit too fast and too overwhelming for the Explorers.
"They are a very high-powered offense," Hudson head coach Brad Disandis said. "They run everything fast. We struggled with their speed."
The Knights also had a knack for frustrating the Explorers with their ruthless power in the front row.
Hudson has been victimized by senior outside hitter Megan Alders’ array of talents for quite some time.
But the Explorers will have their work cut out for them even when Alders graduates.
That’s because junior Madison Knight, sophomore Joy Banks and freshman Mya Sopota will be more than happy to swing away for Nordonia in future years.
"Our offense is our strength," Snider said. "We have four girls who can crush it. Serving also is our strength. I didn’t think we were aggressive enough with our serve against Wadsworth. We were better [Thursday]."
At one point in the opening set, the Knights had a slim 6-5 lead. And then, in a matter of minutes, Nordonia put on a near flawless clinic to leave Hudson in the dust.
Nonetheless, the Knights had a chink in their armor in the second and third sets.
Nordonia made some unforced errors and had some communication issues that led to easy points for the Explorers.
However, those problems were canceled out by the Knights’ imposing array of skills. As a result, Hudson, despite showing some grit to avoid a total massacre, was rattled by Nordonia’s plethora of attackers.
"We showed moments where we put up a fight," Disandis said. "We can play with anybody. But they led us to mistakes and us not making good decisions.
"We talk about playing without fear. I think there was some fear. As a result, the mistakes piled up."
Banks led the Knights’ front-row assault with 11 kills. Senior setter Emily Chrustic kept her hitters properly fed with 32 assists, and Alders and junior libero Riley Watroba each had six digs.
Aleana Mason, a sophomore middle hitter, contributed two blocks.
Senior middle hitter Cami Madar had 10 digs, four kills and four blocks to lead Hudson.
Senior libero Kendall Mackay contributed 25 digs, and senior setter Lindsay Sadler finished with 13 assists and 10 digs for the Explorers, who were missing sophomore defensive specialist Morgan Gaeta due to illness. Sophomore right-side hitter Brooke Ramlow saw limited action after being ill the previous two days.
"We showed great mental toughness in our first two matches," Disandis said. "I think we took a step back. We’ll find a solution. We’re going to get better."
Snider feels the same way about her team. Despite all of its talent, Nordonia has plenty of growing pains to endure with several underclassmen on the roster.
But they are catching on rather rapidly.
"These girls have such great attitudes," Snider said. "They come to practice every day wanting to improve. They get along so well."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, email@example.com or @FrankAceto_RPC.