Nordonia volleyball sweeps its way to the district title

Roger Gordon
Nordonia outside hitter Joy Banks puts down a cross-court kill during a game earlier this season. Banks and the Knights won Nordonia's first district title in decades Oct. 31 with a three-set win over Austintown-Fitch. [Photo courtesy of K.M. Klemencic]

The Nordonia volleyball team qualified for its first regional tournament since last century in style.

The Knights did not lose a single set in their Northeast 3 Division I sectional final and in their two district tourney matches.

“The last time Nordonia made it to regionals was either sometime in the 1990s or in the 1980s,” Nordonia head coach Tim Vasko said.

The latest three-set sweep for the second-seeded Knights was a 25-20, 25-13, 25-21 victory Oct. 31 at home over fourth-seeded Austintown-Fitch in the district final.

“We planned for five sets, but we hoped to finish it in three,” said Vasko. “As we get further into the postseason, I’m sure we’ll be getting into those five-set matches.

“We passed the ball well and got the victory. In the third set, we were behind pretty much the whole time, by about four points several times. We’d come back and win a couple points and then drop one. Then we went on a little run and finished it from there. The girls played great defense.”

Nordonia, now 23-1, is scheduled to oppose top-seeded Massillon Jackson in a Region I semifinal at Hudson Nov. 5 at 7:30 p.m.

Leading the way for Nordonia in the win over Austintown-Fitch were junior outside hitter Joy Banks and junior middle hitter/outside hitter Mya Sopata. Banks had 19 kills and 12 digs, while Sopata totaled 16 kills and 15 digs.

“Joy comes to play every night just like she has all season long. She sees the whole court very well,” Vasko said. “Mya played a great match. She was really seeing things well, really contacting the ball well, hitting to different spots. They both served well and played great defense.”

Senior setter Riley Monroe had 50 assists and four aces. Senior right-side hitter Faith Sparks had 13 digs and seven kills, and senior middle hitter Aleana Mason also hung up seven kills.

“Riley has been great for us all season. She can get the ball to our hitters at any time. She does her job and makes good decisions,” said the coach. “Faith and Aleana have been strong players for us all season long. They get the big blocks. In the first set, we were up 21-20 and they each scored a point to make it 23-20, and then we pulled away from there.”

Senior libero Carina Collica contributed 10 digs.

Nordonia began the week Oct. 27 with a 25-19, 25-14, 25-21 triumph over visiting 14th-seeded Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit in a district semifinal.

“We were in control most of the night,” Vasko said.

Monroe had 48 assists, Banks had 22 kills, 17 digs and three aces and Sopata had 13 kills.

Senior libero/defensive specialist Carina Collica totaled 15 digs.

“Carina has been playing well for us,” said Vasko. “She’s seeing the ball much better here in the playoffs and is getting herself in the correct spots. She’s been strong for us all season. She’s getting better and better as every day goes on.”

Sparks had seven kills, Mason had two aces and junior middle hitter Celine Puscian put up a pair of blocks.

“Celine has been playing well for us all season,” the coach said. “She does her job well.”

Vasko feels good about his team’s chances against Jackson.

“Jackson is well coached and has only one loss, but we’re very confident that we can play with them and we’re very confident that we can beat them,” he said. “We’re looking forward to the challenge. It’s probably going to be a great match.”