It was a good week for the Tallmadge volleyball team.
The Blue Devils won four of five matches. However, the only loss was the most important one. It took place against Suburban League American Conference rival Copley Sept. 10 on the road. It was about as crucial as an early-season match could get.
Tallmadge lost in three very competitive sets 25-20, 25-22, 30-28. The Blue Devils dropped to 6-2 overall and 2-2 in the conference.
"It was disappointing," Tallmadge first-year head coach Jim Maloof said. "It would have been nice to have gotten that one. It’s the difference between being 3-1 in the conference and being 2-2 in the conference. At the end of the day, you look around at the American Conference and it looks really even. Everybody is pretty much tight with everybody."
According to Maloof, his team was just not running on all cylinders against the Indians.
"We weren’t clicking," he said. "It was just one of those nights where you go out there and things didn’t seem to go our way. Balls that would normally fall weren’t falling. We had a lot of great hits, but they were just a little bit off here, a little bit off there.
"The girls worked their butts off, but it just didn’t happen. I don’t want to take anything away from Copley, though. They played really well and have a nice front row that was tall. They got their hands a lot of balls."
Leading the way for Tallmadge was sophomore setter Ellie Kirker, who had 17 assists and three aces.
"Ellie is very talented," Maloof said. "She does a good job feeding the hitters, mixing things up, finding whoever is the hot hitter at the time, distributing the ball well and keeping the defense off balance."
Senior outside hitter Sydney Kirker had 14 kills.
"Sydney is fantastic," Maloof said. "She does a great job hitting and brings a lot of heat on the ball. She brings intensity and speeds things up quite a bit. She’s just such an explosive hitter. She does a great job."
Junior libero Kelsie Horner had 14 digs, while senior hitter/setter Katie Seeker totaled 10 service points.
The Blue Devils began the week Sept. 5 with a 25-14, 25-21, 27-25 victory over visiting American Conference rival Kent Roosevelt.
"Kent Roosevelt is a good team, good competition," Maloof said. "They definitely put up a good fight. They have a lot of talent."
Senior setter/outside opposite hitter Amelia Perdue had 18 assists and 15 service points.
"Amelia plays so consistently from match to match," Maloof said. "She has been doing a great job serving. She hits her zones and has a good pace on her serves."
Horner and senior outside hitter Jill Catalano each had 20 digs and Sydney Kirker amassed 11 kills and three aces.
Next for Tallmadge was the Hilltopper Invitational Sept. 7 at Chardon. The Blue Devils won the championship, clinched with a 23-25, 25-9, 25-10 win over the Hilltoppers.
"It was just a great team effort," Maloof said. "Every kid was firing on all cylinders, doing what they needed to do. Everything just kind of clicked.
"We started out slow in that first set, but part of the reason was that we were sitting around for a long time. By the time we took the court again, we had to refocus. We were down by quite a bit in the first set but came back and almost won it. And then we just took that momentum into the second and third sets."
Ellie Kirker had 23 assists and two aces, while Horner had 17 digs and two aces. Sydney Kirker totaled 11 kills and Seeker notched a block.
Tallmadge started the day by defeating Burton Berkshire 25-16, 25-19.
"That was a pretty smooth, easy match," Maloof said. "We had a lead, so we did some experimenting, made some subs we wouldn’t normally make and tried some plays we normally wouldn’t try to play."
Horner led the way with 17 digs.
"Kelsie was just unbelievable," Maloof said. "She did a really good job. She was all over the court. She’s giving up her body to get to the ball. She makes excellent passes and has excellent anticipation."
Ellie Kirker had 15 assists, while Sydney Kirker had six kills. Seeker put up three aces and a block and junior middle hitter Maddie Arnold also recorded a block.
Later in the day, the Blue Devils beat Garrettsville James A. Garfield 25-12, 25-9. Seeker led the way with eight aces and two blocks.
"Katie was on fire," Maloof said. "She always brings a lot of competitiveness and intensity to matches. She has been serving really well. As far as the blocks go, she might not be that tall, but she plays bigger than she is. She was a nice wall up there, getting her hands on a lot of balls and making it difficult for Garfield to hit."
Ellie Kirker had 19 assists, Horner had 14 digs and Sydney Kirker totaled 12 kills.