Tallmadge volleyball continues hot start to season with wins over Wadsworth, Copley

Roger Gordon
Correspondent
Tallmadge sette Ellie Kirker passes the ball during a game against Aurora last fall. Kirker had a huge match with 42 assists and four aces in Tallmadge's 5-18, 17-25, 17-25, 25-21, 19-17 home win over Wadsworth Sept. 5.

It was quite a week for the Tallmadge volleyball team.

The Blue Devils defeated two talented teams to improve to 6-1 overall and 1-0 in the Suburban League American Conference.

First, on Sept. 5 at James O. Maddox Court, the Blue Devils won a barnburner over league crossover rival Wadsworth 25-18, 17-25, 17-25, 25-21, 19-17.

Then on Sept. 8, Tallmadge beat American Conference rival Copley at home, 25-15, 25-16, 25-23.

The win over Wadsworth was an ultra-competitive match.

“We started out strong in that first set,” Blue Devils head coach Jim Maloof said. “It was matching changes as Wadsworth adapted to us and we adapted to them. Wadsworth is a very talented, very athletic team. They had a significant size advantage over us, so we just had to find our groove and get into a rhythm.

“They’re a very confident team, and they like to go very methodical, so we just changed the pace of the match. And as we changed the pace of the match, we took control back.”

Leading the way for Tallmadge were junior setter Ellie Kirker and senior libero Kelsie Horner. Kirker had 42 assists and four aces, and Horner had 22 digs and four aces.

“Ellie has been playing at an extremely high level, and she continues to do so. She’s just very impressive,” said Maloof. “Kelsie played phenomenally, there’s no two ways about it. She made plays when she needed to make them. When the ball came her way, she put us in the position to succeed, and that’s exactly what happened.”

Senior outside hitter Emma Eyre was another major contributor with 16 kills.

“Emma continues to get the job done,” Maloof said. “When she gets to the front row, she closes out rallies, she delivers when she needs to deliver. It’s nice having her on our side, let’s put it that way.”

Senior defensive specialist Kaela Skubic had 12 service points and four aces. Sophomore middle hitter Kendall Kirkland notched eight blocks.

In the win over Copley, Tallmadge survived a gallant effort from the Indians.

“Copley is tough. They’re a very good team,” said the coach. “They have a lot of talent, but we did what we needed to do to walk away with the win.”

Kirker had 34 assists and two aces, while Horner had 32 digs and a pair of aces.

Sophomore Ella Bee hung up 13 kills and two aces, Skubic had 13 service points and Kirkland contributed four blocks.

“Ella really got it done,” Maloof said. “She did a great job across the board, front row and back row. When she was in the front row, she was getting the kills when she needed to. She stepped up at a time when we needed somebody to step up. She delivered. She did a great job.

“Kaela did a great job behind the service line. She was serving really tough, hitting her zone. She was very effective.

“Kendall was a force at the net. She definitely disrupted the Copley offense, and that made it easier for our back row.”

According to Maloof, the Blue Devils are playing at a very high level, something that needs to continue.

“It’s a young team that’s gaining experience at the varsity level,” he said. “They’re jelling and they’re figuring things out. We need to keep the momentum going, keep jelling, keep adding little pieces to the team as we go along and try to elevate our game.”

Tallmadge was scheduled to play at Barberton Sept. 10, followed by a home against Highland Sept. 15 and at Revere Sept. 16. All three are conference matches that are set to start at 6:30 p.m