MACEDONIA — As the volleyball season heads into its home stretch, it’s clear the Nordonia and Twinsburg sides are at different stages in their respective development.
Nordonia is dreaming of winning its first league title since 2010, while the Tigers are still trying to find consistency on a young team.
As the two squads met Thursday to open the second half of their Suburban League National Conference schedules, the distance between two programs was evident.
Nordonia’s serving and hitting prowess overwhelmed the Tigers, as Nordonia scored the sweep 25-14, 25-13, 25-19.
Nordonia improved to 10-2, 7-1 in the National Conference heading into its rematch with Wadsworth Tuesday on the road. The Grizzlies are the lone team to beat the Knights in conference.
Twinsburg dropped to 5-8, 2-6 in the conference.
Knights coach Lori Snider said her team was rounding into form.
"This was the most consistent that we’ve played all season," Snider said. "Our serve receipt was there tonight. Our passing may have been as good as its been all year."
Meanwhile, Tigers coach Jessica Rader could do nothing but tip her cap to the Knights.
"The tempo at which they play is very impressive," Rader said."I felt like we were a step behind all night, and that’s not a knock on us. It has everything to do with them."
Serve receipt — or lack thereof — was probably the the biggest factor in the game. As the match went on, the Knights’ attack seemed wear down the Tigers.
"We talk about that every day in practice," Rader said. "Our serve receipt could have been better tonight. Our communication broke down at times. We were getting frustrated. I was happy to see us fight back a bit in the third set."
Nordonia had lot to do with Twinsburg’s struggles, as the Knights collected a bevy of aces, including eight aces from sophomore middle hitter My Sopata. At times, it was feast or famine on the service line for Nordonia, as the Knights also had numerous serving errors.
Snider said she wasn’t worried.
"We’ve been very aggressive on the serve all year," Snider said. "I’ll take some mistakes if we keep going after them."
Sopata’s serving helped Nordonia seize the early lead in set one, as she rattled off five straight service points to give Nordonia a 13-6 lead and force Rader to call timeout.
Twinsburg never recovered, as five different Knights registered kills in the first set, led by senior Madison Knight with four.
Snider joked it was typical match for Knight, who finished with 16 assists, eight kills, six digs and three aces for Nordonia.
"She literally doing everything," Snider said.
Twinsburg was called for an illegal pass on set point to give Nordonia the first set and the Knights kept their foot on the gas in the second set.
Nordonia took an early 8-1 lead and never looked back, as middle hitter Alena Mason put down some hard kills. Twinsburg closed the gap to 15-10 at one point, but the Knights ran away with set two late.
Sopato scored a kill off the block on set point to make it 2-0.
The third set was a much tighter affair, as Nordonia’s serving touch seemed to abandon it early on. Twinsburg also got a lift at the net from junior middle hitter Bryanna Curry, who led the Tigers with four kills on the night.
Twinsburg held the lead at 14-13 in set three, but then Sopata and outside hitter Joy Banks started to assert themselves at the net. Banks finished with a match-high 10 kills.
Two straight aces by right side hitter Faith Sparks gave Nordonia some breathing room and Banks to a kill down off the Tigers’ block to end the contest.
Banks and libero Riley Watroba each had seven digs for Nordonia, while Sopata added three blocks.
Twinsburg led by senior Alyssa Willis with seven digs. Setter Carisa Tanner added seven assists for the Tigers.
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, firstname.lastname@example.org or @MLeonard_GHO