Senior Rachel Ashley did not hesitate when she was handed the microphone to sing the national anthem on Tuesday night at Firestone High School.
Ashley belted out the words with a smile and then turned her attention to helping her volleyball team compete against rival Ellet.
On “Senior Night” for Ashley, Sara Davis and Samantha Sebree, the three seniors played key roles in a Falcons’ 3-1 victory by scores of 26-24, 25-18, 23-25 and 25-20.
The victory allowed Firestone (16-4, 12-0) to clinch the City Series regular-season championship and kept Ellet (10-6, 8-2) in second place.
“We really communicated well and had great chemistry,” said Ashley, who participates in vocal jazz, madrigals and symphonic choir at Firestone.
“We were all so full of energy. Even though we were all tired from playing St. Vincent-St. Mary [Monday], I think we pushed through and we wanted to finish this off.”
Davis led the Falcons near the net with 24 kills and four blocks.
Junior setter Destynee Lovejoy contributed 36 assists and 12 service points.
Ashley served three aces and junior Janelle Perry had 15 digs.
“I liked how the team came together,” Firestone coach Stacey Myers said. “We were really disciplined and began to execute the game plan that we had in place, which was getting the passes up to our setter [Lovejoy] because she is really astute at picking up our big hitters when they are hot.
‘‘Finding the right person to get the ball to go around the block is important. I thought we did a good job with that.”
Perry’s twin sister, Dara Perry, also played a steady game along with junior Taliyah Carter and freshman Allison Simon.
“We had each other’s back,” Davis said. “I think we can get lazy with our attitude about the game sometimes, but we just bring each other up. We pump each other up with cheers. I think we did great.”
Ellet overcame a 20-16 deficit in the third set to stay alive. Ellet coach Tina Wallace mentioned the play of junior Emily Murray (13 service points, three aces) and senior Mackenzie Sandor (five blocks) as bright spots.
Seniors Raisha Bedingfield (10 digs), Abbey Davis (11 assists) and Lindsey Chafe (nine kills) also led Ellet.
“The first time we played them was one of our worst games ever,” Wallace said. “Today, we played a little bit better, but still we didn’t capitalize on their mistakes. They had a lot of missed serves. When you have got Davis in the back row you have to make lots of points because when she is in the front row she can hurt you.
‘‘She is an incredible player. She had different shots and put the ball wherever she wanted whenever she wanted. We don’t have an answer for that just yet, but we will work on it.”
Davis, Carter, Ashley and the Perry twins gave Ellet fits at the net in the fourth set.
“We had to refocus ourselves and it’s all about having each other’s back,” Sebree said. “We all make mistakes, but as long as your teammate is right next to you to pick it up, we always get it over.”
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.