STOW: Walsh Jesuit junior Kyra Coundourides’ versatility and athleticism were on full display in the Warriors’ 3-0 district final win over host Stow on Thursday night.
Coundourides was her usual setting self in the middle of Walsh’s attack, finishing with a game-high 31 assists. She did the most damage, though, with her nine kills, some on tips, some on perfectly placed sets to the back corner of Stow’s side as she faked a set to a hitter on the outside. That kept Stow at bay in all three sets.
“I don’t think I’ve had a better attacking match than this one,” said Coundourides, who also had three blocks. “I kept throwing it to everybody. Everybody has their chance. I only do it [attack] when it’s necessary. I trust my hitters. Sometimes I’m the open one.”
When she did keep the ball on her side, she was setting up seniors Annie Osterfeld and Mary Grace ‘‘Machine Gun’’ Kelly, who had 10 and nine kills, respectively.
Walsh’s attack coming from both sides and the middle never allowed Stow to settle in and find a rhythm.
“They just took us out of our comfort zone and we couldn’t make enough plays,” Stow coach Miguel Ramirez said. “That’s basically it. We made some plays but Walsh kept making more.”
Last year, Walsh and Stow met in the district final, with the Warriors winning in a hotly contested five-set match. Walsh coach Missy Sturm said her girls were more under control this time.
“We had more experience coming into this year’s match,” Sturm said. “A lot of our players remembered last year. Our highs and lows weren’t as high or low as last year. We were more even-keeled, more concentrated.”
She also knew a target would be on the Warriors’ backs.
“They had a lot of energy coming in, I knew they would,” Sturm said. “Their fans have a lot of energy and I knew they wanted us really bad. I told the girls to stay poised and concentrate and be aggressive. I thought we did a nice job tonight.”
Stow senior Megan Garrison had a game-high 11 kills and several digs to keep points alive. When she wasn’t rifling spikes into Walsh’s defense, the Bulldogs (14-11) used a blend of power and finesse, going for tip-points early and often.
“We knew they were going to go off-speed,” Coundourides said. “At practice we adjusted our defense a little bit. Really, that’s pretty much all we worked on [Wednesday]. We knew we could dig hard hits. It was crisp tonight.”
Walsh (18-7) again is focusing on the regional tournament and the state final four.
“That’s always the goal for us and the program,” Sturm said. “It’s something that’s kind of unsaid but it’s always our goal. Our girls got a taste of it. That’s been in our heads every single day.”
Walsh will play Willoughby South, the No. 1 seed out of the Euclid district, in the regional semifinal at Hudson High School at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.