MACEDONIA — This year has been about finding the right formula for both the Nordonia and Stow-Munroe Falls volleyball squads.
The Knights have been trying to find the right combination to finish its matches, while Stow has just been looking to solve the puzzle to jump-start its season.
Both teams showed flashes of brilliance when they met Thursday at Nordonia, but it was clear the Knights had more firepower at this point in the season.
Nordonia pounded out a 25-18, 25-23, 25-22 win over the Bulldogs to improve to 6-2, 3-1 in the Suburban League National Conference. Stow dropped to 1-7, 1-3 in the division.
Knights coach Lori Snider switched some players in the Knights’ 6-2 system and was happy with the effort.
"This team fights through everything," Snider said. "I think they’re starting to trust each other. We’re starting to figure it out.
"Our offense is definitely the strength of this team," she added. "We still need to work on our serve receipt. I’d like to see us start to make better decisions."
For Stow coach Liz McDade, there was both progress and frustration in the match. While the Bulldogs had some excellent moments as they switched to a triple-middle offense vs. the Knights, McDade lamented her team was still making too many errors.
"Sometimes when the other team makes errors, we give it right back to them," McDade said. "We’re not able to sustain the momentum we need to control the games.
"We’re obviously getting better, though. We’re going to be ready for October. That’s what it’s about."
It was a bevy of serving and hitting errors by the Bulldogs that allowed Nordonia to take control of the first set. Middle hitter Mya Sopata put up seven straight service points for the Knights in the first set, giving Nordonia a 15-8 lead, which it would not relinquish.
Five different Knights registered kills in the first set, as a floating serve by Nordonia senior Madison Knight found the corner for an ace to end the first set.
Knight was all over the court for the Knights, as the senior recorded 22 assists and four kills. Snider referred to Knight as "a jack of all trades."
"We’re asking her to set for the first time," Snider said. We’re asking her to do serve receipt. We’re asking her to play outside. As a coach, I have to remind myself how much we’re asking her to do."
The second set was a different affair, as Stow took an early lead with senior Molly Richards leading the charge. Richards had five kills and two blocks for the Bulldogs despite battling illness.
"Molly is currently under the weather," McDade said. "She did a great job fighting through and giving us that energy she provides."
Stow led by as much as 17-8 in the second set, but then the Knights rallied. Junior hitters Joy Banks and Alena Mason started pounding kills at the net, leading the Knights to tie the set at 21-21 and go on to win, as an ace by Sopata ended the set.
Banks led players with 13 kills and was the focal point of the Knights’ offense most of the night.
"She’s electric every night for us," Snider said.
Set three was tight early, until the Knights rattled off five straight service points to make it 15-10.
Stow cut the lead to 23-22, thanks to two straight aces from outside hitter Ryleigh Schelien, but a kill from Banks gave Nordonia match point and Mason ended it by putting a kill off the block.
Nordonia got 16 digs and some excellent serves from libero Riley Watroba.
Sam Croyle had four kills and two blocks for Stow, while Schelien had four aces and 10 digs. Setter Olivia Harris had 15 assists for Stow.