Having an impressive post season, the upstart Twinsburg volleyball team couldn’t take the next step and upset top seed Nordonia in a district semifinal test, but the Tigers played superb in the second and third sets.
In a rematch from regular season league play, Twinsburg faced top seed Nordonia in the Solon Division I district semifinals Oct. 22.
Nordonia won 25-8, 25-21, 25-16 over the Tigers, who got off to a slow start and recovered well.
"In the first set we were too passive offensively," explained Tiger head coach Jess Rader. "We got blocked a few times early and were too timid after that."
"By the second set we had gotten a little more confident offensively and fought back," added Rader. "I’m proud of the way we played in the second and third sets."
Twinsburg’s season ended at 10-14 as the fifth seed while Nordonia (21-4) eventually lost to Solon (17-9) for the district title.
"One of our main goals going into the match was to serve receive better than we had the first two times we saw them this season," pointed out Rader.
"Alyssa Willis, Lilly Piccolo and Alana Stevens all did a really good job of starting our offense off in system with great serve receive passing," Rader added.
Defense is always a factor when it comes to Twinsburg and within Rader’s system.
Nordonia just had too much firepower.
"Mya Sopata and Joy Banks are such good hitters for Nordonia - it seemed like every time we gave them a chance, they found a way to put the ball away," explained Rader.
It was the final contest for a stalwart Twinsburg senior class.
The graduating senior are Alyssa Willis (OH), Ally Schank (S), Ashlyn Pucky (RS), Emily Sudnick (RS) and Alana Stevens (L).
"Alyssa played all the way around and was our only team captain," said Rader. "We will miss her competitiveness and leadership as much as her presence on the floor. That is not to understate her abilities, though."
"She is one of the most versatile hitters and blockers I have ever coached and she could play just about any position," added the coach.
Schank also had loads of experience as a setter.
"Ally has been one of our setters for the last two years," offered Rader. "She knows the game really well and has made really good decisions running our offense all season."
"Ashlyn (Pucky) was out for part of this season with a knee injury, but adding her back into the rotation really helped us play to our strengths," stressed the coach. "She is a great blocker."
Sudnick was dedicated for the Tigers.
"Emily was a great utility player for us this season," said Rader. "She works really hard in practice, is always supportive of her teammates, and she was always ready to step up in any position when needed."
Stevens came on strong and was crucial for the Tigers’ success on the defensive end.
"Alana was our rock in serve receive and defense," emphasized Rader. "She has a ton of experience playing competitive volleyball and is extremely knowledgeable, not to mention her athleticism and attitude."
Twinsburg used a convincing 3-0 win over fourth seed Maple Heights (20-4) in the sectional final by scores of 25-22, 25-19, 25-20.
Juniors Bryanna Curry, Carissa Tanner, Kierra Willis, and Ashley Cavadas will be instrumental next season.
There is a slew of underclassmen in the program, including sophomore defensive specialist Lilly Piccolo and sophomore Jenna Pollock.