Tallmadge volleyball scores five-set win over rival Highland

Roger Gordon

It was a big win over a good team.

The Tallmadge volleyball team defeated Suburban League American Conference rival Highland 25-13, 25-19, 13-25, 27-29, 15-10 Sept. 15 at James O. Maddox Court.

“It was a very competitive match and took a lot of energy out of us, there’s no two ways about it. Highland is a very, very athletic team, a very good team,” Blue Devils head coach Jim Maloof said. “It was definitely a nice win. It was a great performance. The team basically raised its level of play and did what it needed to do. The girls just kept pushing. It was that no-quit attitude.”

On Sept. 16, Tallmadge lost at American Conference rival Revere 25-18, 25-20, 25-20. The Blue Devils are now 8-2 overall and 3-1 in the conference.

In the win over Highland, senior libero Kelsie Horner led the way with 20 digs.

“Kelsie dug some really good balls,” said Maloof. “Highland has some very strong hitters, but Kelsie got in there, stepped in and controlled those digs. It wasn’t just digging the ball and keeping it up, though. Those were nice, controlled digs so that we could run an offense off of them.”

Senior defensive specialist Kaela Skubic had 11 service points, while sophomore middle hitter Kendall Kirkland hung up 10 blocks.

“Kaela was hot behind the service line,” Maloof said. “I was calling some pretty tight zones and some spaces in those zones, and she was hitting them.

“Kendall’s blocks were a huge factor. She really got herself in the right position. That was obviously her best blocking performance of the season. She did a great job.”

Junior setter Ellie Kirker had 42 assists and two aces, and senior outside hitter Emma Eyre totaled 12 kills.

According to the coach, the loss to Revere was a tough one.

“Revere is very talented. They have a lot of athleticism,” he said. “They have one hitter in particular who is just big. She’s just a big hitter, and we didn’t do a good job stopping her. I moved some blockers around, changed the defense a couple times, but we just couldn’t stop her.

“But at the end of the day, we still beat ourselves. There was some hangover from the night before. The girls were tired, a little unfocused. We played from behind the entire match and just could not get on top of them.”

Kirker had 21 assists, Horner had 18 digs and Eyre contributed a dozen kills. Sophomore Ella Bee had seven service points and three aces, while Kirkland numbered three blocks.

Tallmadge began the week Sept. 10 with a 25-15, 25-20, 25-19 victory at conference rival Barberton.

“Barberton did well. Their hitters were effective and they played good defense,” said Maloof. “We weren’t playing our best, but we were pretty much in control.”

Kirker had 25 assists and 14 service points, while Eyre totaled 23 digs, nine kills and four aces.

“Ellie did a great job,” Maloof said. “She distributed the ball to the hitters very well. She was finding the hot hitters who we needed to connect with to actually get the job done. Behind the service line, she was hitting her zones, hitting them very effectively and putting us in a position to succeed.

“Emma had a great match. She did it in the front row, she did it in the back row and she also did it behind the serving line, so she had an all-around great performance.”

Bee had 23 digs, and junior middle hitter Mia Hurst contributed six blocks.

“Ella just continues to get better,” said Maloof. “In that back row, she’s doing a great job getting herself in position and making the plays.

“Mia also had a pretty high number of kills. I’d say that was probably her best performance of the season. She’s a force at the net whether it’s offensively or defensively.”

The Blue Devils are scheduled to play conference foe Aurora Sept. 22 before traveling to Uniontown Lake Sept. 26 at 12:30 p.m.