Nordonia volleyball gets past Stow-Munroe Falls

Michael Leonard
Kent Weeklies

STOW — New Nordonia volleyball coach Tim Vasko has some good memories of James G. Tyree Gymnasium from his days coaching at Stow-Munroe Falls.

After he led the Knights into the Tyree Gymnasium Sept. 3, however, Vasko wasn't too pleased with what he saw from his team.

Keep in mind, Nordonia still pulled out a straight-sets win over a young Stow squad, but Vasko holds his team to a high standard.

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Nordonia had to rally from four-point deficits late in first two sets, but managed to score a 25-23, 25-22, 25-8 win over the Bulldogs.

Combined with a 25-20, 25-21, 25-17 home win over Hudson Tuesday, Nordonia improved to 5-1, 2-0 in the Suburban League National Conference.

Stow is still looking for its first win of the season, as it fell to 0-5, 0-3 in the National Conference.

Vasko noted his team committed far too many errors early in the match.

"I don't even know how many service errors we had tonight," Vasko said as the Knights finished with 18 errors. "That's not going to get it done. We served well at the ends of the first two sets when we needed to."

Stow also is under new management this fall with Sarah Snyder taking over the program and having to replace five graduated seniors. Snyder was happy with her team's effort, but noted being unable to finish the first two sets was a mark of an inexperienced team.

"We're practicing. We're working on how to finish sets in practice," Snyder said. "We hung with them tonight because we played good defense. I was proud of the girls. We have to play good defense because we're not a very tall team."

Serving may have been Stow's best weapon on the night as the Bulldogs were able to get four aces in the first set. Stow was led on the line by senior Sydney Braunscheidel, who had 10 service points and two aces.

"I thought we were very aggressive on the serve tonight," Snyder said. "We're been working on the serve a lot. Offensively, we didn't have a great night."

Vasko noted his team committed 18 unforced errors in the first set alone. Those errors helped Stow take a 22-18 lead late in the set, forcing Vasko to call timeout.

That's when Nordonia senior Joy Banks asserted herself.

"We felt flat tonight," Banks said. "I think, since we were struggling, I felt if I stepped up, everyone would have to step up with me."

Banks stepped up big as she put down three straight kills to close the gap with the Bulldogs. She then closed out the first set with two straight aces.

Nordonia was in command at the net most of the night as Banks finished with a game-high 17 kills and junior Mya Sopata added nine kills.

Stow was led by four kills by senior Sydney Uridel, but Snyder noted the game was actually her team's best night blocking the ball so far this season. Natalie Fairchild led Stow with three blocks.

Some of those blocks helped Stow turn around an early 14-8 deficit in the second set. Stow would rally to take a 20-17 lead, thanks to five straight service points from Braunscheidel, which forced Vasko to call timeout.

For the the second straight set, Stow held a 22-18 advantage, only to see Nordonia  rally. This time the serving of setter Riley Monroe dug the Knights out of the hole.

Monroe served out the final six points of the set, including three aces. Set two ended when Nordonia was unable to return a kill from Banks.

"We came in confident that we could play well tonight," Vasko said. "Maybe a bit overconfident. We're 2-0 in the division, though. That's the bottom line."

The third set probably conformed more to Vasko's preference.

Nordonia jumped to an early 10-4 lead and never looked back as middle hitter Aleana Mason had a big set with four kills and an ace.

Meanwhile, Stow's offense fell apart as the Bulldogs were unable to get good passes. The 25-8 final score was the largest margin of the third set as Nordonia put a kill attempt out of bound on match point.

Stow got nine digs from libero Abbey Poole, while setter Olivia Harris had nine assists.

Monroe had 29 assists and four aces for Stow, while right-side hitter Faith Sparks led the Knights with nine digs.

Vasko said he needed his team to raise its game ahead of a showdown with Sept. 8 with Brecksville-Broadview Heights.

"They've got a very good team again," Vasko said of the Bees. "They've got a great outside hitter. If we play the way we did tonight, we're not going win.