BATH TWP. — When it comes to the conference championship and possibly the season as a whole, one team has the potential to be a major thorn in the Tallmadge volleyball squad’s side.
That would be Revere.
The Blue Devils could meet the Minutemen one more time down the road. For now, Revere has the honor of being named queen of the Suburban League American Conference.
The host Minutemen won their third American Conference title in the last four years after earning a 21-25, 25-18, 25-20, 25-17 win over Tallmadge Thursday in Bath Township.
With the victory, Revere, which also won the Suburban League title in 2014, improved to 19-2 overall and finished 12-0 in the American Conference. The Blue Devils fell to 16-5 and finished 10-2 in the American Conference.
The Minutemen, winners of 19 straight matches, also defeated Tallmadge 18-25, 25-12, 18-25, 25-13, 15-11 earlier in the season at James O. Maddox Court.
These two teams may not have seen the last of each other.
Revere and the Blue Devils are the No. 1 and 2 seeds, respectively, at the Tallmadge Division II district tournament. Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary is the third seed and Akron Coventry received the fourth seed.
"They have a lot of weapons," Tallmadge head coach Jennie Perdue said. "Our approach is defense to offense and I thought we defended well. They have tall, powerful hitters and they hit it to all of the corners, which is difficult to defend."
The major reason the Minutemen had their way the majority of the match was the play of their dynamic front-row duo of senior middle hitter Maya Kerr-Coste and freshman outside hitter Anna Freeman.
Kerr-Coste led all players with 20 kills and Freeman also finished points at will and contributed five aces.
"Maya has done a 180 since last year," Revere head coach Dana Cummins said. "She has unleashed the beast. Anna has played JO (Junior Olympics). She doesn’t play like a typical freshman."
After a well-played first set, the Blue Devils found themselves playing catch-up the rest of the way. It seemed like whenever Tallmadge got close and appeared to be gaining momentum, the Minutemen always had an answer.
Both teams played with an enthusiastic fighting spirit and there were a number of long rallies and crowd-pleasing dives to the floor on points that appeared impossible to reach.
In the end, the Minutemen won the last four points to put it away. Revere’s other freshman sensation, Dakota Drenth, ended the match with a kill. Drenth finished with four blocks.
"Overall, I thought we showed a lot of heart," Perdue said. "They did their best. They (the Minutemen) had a lot of balls that hit the net and rolled over.
"We don’t see competition like this. It’s always a challenge to play a team like this. We’ve tried to beef up our schedule. It was fun."
Emma Eyre led the Blue Devils with 12 kills and Jill Catalano and Alex Perrin added 11 and eight kills, respectively.
Tallmadge’s back row was led by Kelsie Horner’s 36 digs. Eyre added 22 digs and Jill Catalano finished with 19 digs.
Catalano was a presence for the Blue Devils in just about every way. She added 10 service points.
Perrin and Amelia Perdue each had six points. Amelia Perdue added 25 assists and Elle Kirker contributed 20 assists.
Senior setter Isabelle Gurreau had 21 assists for Revere.
The Blue Devils got themselves in a position to compete for the conference title after cruising to a convincing 25-20, 25-14, 25-23 win over host Highland in an American Conference showdown Tuesday in Granger Township.
Eyre had 18 digs and 12 kills and Elle Kirker finished with 12 assists and 11 service points for the Blue Devils.
Amelia Perdue added 16 assists and eight service points, and Perrin contributed 11 service points and four blocks for Tallmadge.
Also faring well for the Blue Devils were Sydney Kirker (six kills), Horner (16 digs) and Catalano (14 digs).
Tallmadge earned a first-round bye in the postseason. The Blue Devils are scheduled to play the Woodridge-Creston Norwayne winner Oct. 20 at noon.
If Tallmadge is going to get the last laugh on Revere, it may have its opportunity Oct. 28 at James O. Maddox Court. That’s when the Tallmadge district final takes place.
"I hope we see them again," Perdue said.
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.