HUDSON: In what is becoming a theme, the Walsh Jesuit volleyball team continued its mastery of opponents at the net.
Willoughby South tried to slow down Walsh in a Division I regional semifinal at Hudson and came up on the short end Thursday night.
Walsh dispatched Willoughby South in straight sets 25-11, 25-16 and 25-12 by utilizing its height advantage and the all-around skill of junior setter Kyra Coundourides.
Walsh will face Chagrin Falls Kenston in a regional final at 7 p.m. Saturday. Kenston defeated Wadsworth three sets to one in the second match Thursday night.
Seniors Mary Grace Kelly, Nicole Onderko, Katie Gaugler and Annie Osterfeld joined juniors Kit McCarty and Cassidy Gawlik to give the Warriors (19-7) a formidable presence up front against the Rebels (18-7).
“I was happy with our girls tonight,” Walsh coach Missy Sturm said. “There were a couple of plays where we could have been a little sharper, but this team is good. I called one timeout and I said: ‘Listen, we are in the regional semis and we need to be sharper right now if we’re going to be ready for Saturday.’ They all went ‘Yep’ and went out in that third game and just went ahead. They are experienced.”
Kelly, a Northern Illinois University recruit, paced the Warriors at the net with 11 kills.
“Maintaining focus was the main goal,” Kelly said. “We came in with the mind-set that we would be able to get everything on point. We didn’t want to allow any runs. We wanted to make the passes straight to setters and the sets straight to the hitters.
“We were able to do that and take care of business.”
Coundourides, a Virginia Tech recruit, was her usual self roaming around the court and running the offense. She finished with 27 assists and six service aces.
The Rebels were unable to provide much resistance over the course of the three sets. Warriors sophomore Carolyn Bauer concluded the first and third sets with service aces.
Senior libero Becca Kanz added 14 digs for Walsh, and Onderko had three blocks.
“We just wanted to come out real strong,” Kanz said. “We knew they had a really tall middle hitter [junior Morgan Tippie]. We just wanted to shut her down. I think we did a great job of coming out with intensity.”
Rebels coach Bill Behrend said Tippie had 10 kills. Junior Nicole Nugent had 21 digs, and senior Joelle Livorse had 22 assists.
Kenston topped Wadsworth in the opening two sets 25-16 and 25-18, but the Grizzlies (23-3) rallied to win the third set 25-22. The Bombers (19-7) recovered to win the fourth set 25-21.
“In set one and two we did not do little things that we absolutely needed to do,” Wadsworth coach Jill Quayle said. “We needed to be a little bit more aggressive and block a little bit more. We started to do that in set three. That is what made us successful. I am proud of the way we played all the way around.
“In set four, the ball just didn’t go our way. That is the way it goes sometimes.”
Bombers coach Danny Coughlin relied on juniors Jamie Kosiorek (23 kills) and Taylor Curtis (11 kills) at the net.
Kosiorek, an Ohio University recruit, also had 15 digs and 16 service points. Junior Stephanie Bindernagel (34 digs, 17 service points) and junior Lori Zagar (51 assists) helped out.
“Kenston is a good team,” Quayle said. “They are very solid.
“I think we had a little bit of jitters at the start. As soon as we got the jitters out, we played right with them and above them at times.”
The Grizzlies statistical leaders were senior Haley Hassinger (41 assists), junior Peyton Booth (39 digs), freshman Jodi Johnson (16 kills), juniors Andrea Beavers (two blocks) and Madison Gilger (two blocks).
The loss also capped the high school volleyball careers of Hassinger and seniors Rachel Goddard and Haley Beavers.
“The seniors have been outstanding,” Quayle said. “I am going to miss them a lot. They mean a lot to this team and a lot to this program. They took me in as a first-year coach three years ago. They stuck with it and they have continuously improved throughout the years. I am very proud of all three of them.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.