TWINSBURG — For both Twinsburg and Stow-Munroe Falls volleyball teams, the 2019 season has been a transition year.
For Twinsburg, it’s been about trying to succeed with one of the youngest rosters in the Suburban League. For Stow, it’s been about finding the right combination after losing some generational players.
When Stow visited Twinsburg Thursday for the Tigers’ Senior Night, it was Twinsburg’s seniors who stole the show early. But Stow showed its will by rallying to win its second five-set game in as many nights.
Stow rallied to score a 12-25, 19-25, 25-17, 25-22, 17-15 victory. The Bulldogs improved to 5-15, 4-8 in the Suburban League National Conference, while Twinsburg dropped to 7-9, 4-8 in the conference.
For Stow, the Twinsburg match was its third in as many days. The Bulldogs hosted Nordonia Tuesday and lost in straight sets 25-20, 25-18, 25-18, but then scored a five-set home win over Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary 17-25, 25-15, 25-17, 25-19, 15-13 Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Tigers were coming off their first victory in years over Brecksville Tuesday, winning in five sets 25-23, 21-25, 25-19, 19-25, 15-13.
Stow coach Liz McDade said she was unsure why here team started so slow.
"For some reason, we’ve come out flat the last two games," McDade said. "That hasn’t been our character so far this year. At least they’re learning how to play at their best when they have to."
"it really hurts to lose this one, especially after what we did at Brecksville," said Twinsburg coach Jessica Rader. "Honestly, I give [Stow] a lot of credit. They played a lot better in the third and fourth sets."
Perhaps fueled by the energy of their Senior Night, Twinsburg came on fire.
Tiger setter Ally Schank opened the match with a pair of aces, and Twinsburg’s serve gave Stow fits for the rest of the set.
Twinsburg led by as much as 22-10 at one point, as a crosscourt kill by Twinsburg senior Emily Sudnick closed out the first set.
Set 2 saw Twinsburg take control early again, as libero Alana Stevens ran off seven straight service points to make it 8-2 early.
The Bulldogs tried to rally this time, but Stow committed numerous hitting errors and never could get the lead. A kill into the net by Stow’s Ryleigh Schelien gave Twinsburg a two-set lead.
Bryanna Curry led the Tigers with 10 kills, while Stevens had 24 digs. Setter Ally Schank had 17 assists for the Tigers.
The turning point of the match took play midway through the third set, when McDade argued a net violation call so hard she was given a yellow card. While McDade was confined to the bench, the Bulldogs reacted to their coach’s fire.
Sydney Uridel was the hero late in the third set for Stow, as she served out the final seven points of the set, including an ace on set point.
The two sides went tight throughout Set 4, with Twinsburg leading 22-20 at one point. However, Stow senior middle hitter Kira Philpot made some plays down the stretch, including a two-handed kill on set point.
The gym was roaring throughout set five, as both teams had a chance at match point before the set was tied at 15-15.
In the end, Stow got a kill from Philpot and kill by Schelien to close out the match.
Molly Richards led the Bulldogs with 15 kills, while Schelien added 12 kills and 17 digs. Setter Olivia Harris had 51 assists.
Against Nordonia, Richards led the way with 11 kills, while Harris finished with 24 assists.
Richards (14), Schelien (12) and Sam Croyle (11) all had double-digit kill totals against the Irish. Harris put up 49 assists, while Schelien (23), Harris (13) and Croyle (11) all hit double digits in kills.
Stow will close out the regular season with a pair of rivalry games. The Bulldogs will travel to Hudson Tuesday and host Cuyahoga Falls Thursday. Both matches are at 7 p.m.
Meanwhile, Twinsburg will compete at the Mayfield Invitational Saturday at 9 a.m.
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, email@example.com or @MLeonard_GHO