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Cincinnati Seton withstands big Magnificat rally on way Varsity Volleyball Showcase title
September 16, 2011
by Jim Jicha
Cincinnati Seton withstood a furious rally in the title match by host Magnificat to capture their first Varsity Volleyball Showcase Tournament crown since 2007. The Saints beat Magnificat, ranked number four in the first State Coaches Poll, 17-25, 29-27, 25-11 after downing Sylvania Northview and St. Joseph Academy earlier in the day.
“This was my third year here. I wanted to win this tournament” senior middle hitter/right side Carly Graman said afterward. The Saints dropped the final to Magnificat last year 21-25, 25-20, 25-23, and they were nipped 21-25, 23-25 in a semifinal by eighth ranked Brecksville the year before.
Seton took an 8-6 game one lead on a three-point spurt fueled by Graman, whose block kill ended a long volley. She encored with an ace. The Saints held the lead to 13-11, when 6’2” Blue Streaks outside hitter/middle blocker Cayley Balser drilled a termination. That started a six-point Blue Streak run as sophomore outside hitter Nicole Keshock and junior opposite Molly McCormick contributed kills, and defensive specialist Dana Feddrix served an ace.
With Magnificat ahead 18-16, Keshock spiked a run to the finish, as defensive specialist Rikki Kucinski served an ace and 6’0” sophomore middle blocker Michaela Gabanic smashed a Grace Conroy quick set up the middle. Balser ended the game with a slam from the left.
Seton jumped out 2-0 in game two on kills by 5’10” junior middle Marisa Meyer and 5’10” outside/right side Emily Stautberg. The teams exchanged points and, after a tip by Saints’ 5’10” junior outside Maria Svec, the Saints were up 6-4. They raced further ahead to 12-5 helped by two kills from Meyer, and to 16-7 on a kill and block from Graman.
Keshock led Magnificat partially back to 21-17 with three kills. But after Meyer dove to keep a block in play on the next volley, the Blue Streaks lifted and libero Addie Lottman served up an ace. Her next serve was long but Graman took it to game point with a slam in the middle, this after some Lottman acrobatics keeping a skip-off-the-net in play.
With the score 24-18 Magnificat rallied.
Balser drilled three straight kills off blocks, all from the left, and Seton obliged with two errors. Following a timeout, Balser spiked another slam, and while the Saints kept it in play they hit into the net. With the game even, Seton setter Natalie Lietz finally stopped the run with a nifty dump in the middle, but Balser went to her left for a retying seam-splitting blast from the left. And when Seton had difficulty fielding a serve from defensive specialist Ashley McCormick and hit into the net, the Blue Streaks had their first lead of the game. For match point no less.
But match point never came, as Graman saw to that with a booming block in the middle. Magnificat then obliged with a hitting error. Balser kept her team alive with another kill. But Svec and Stautberg double blocked Seton ahead 28-27, and a Blue Streak double touch on the ensuing volley evened the match at a game apiece.
Balser led off the tiebreaker with another spike off the block and the teams exchanged scores, Meyer spiking two points for Seton, and Feddrix scoring with a dig that she landed into a hole.
The trading abruptly stopped, however, after Svec tied it at three with a spike that required four digs to return. Graman followed with an ace for Seton’s first lead, 5’10” middle Rachel Zieverink block killed on the right and the Saints were never headed.
Magnificat trailed 9-7 after prevailing on a long volley on which Lottman kept returning spikes, but Seton ran off five more points. With the score 16-10, Graman, Zieverink and 5’10” senior right side/outside Annie Metzger teamed up for three block kills. Magnificat called timeout, but the onslaught continued. A serve by Graman skipped off the net and was double touched. A Magnificat block tip should have ended the run but Svec, Zieverink and Lietz each got a hand on the ball with Lietz sending it over and Svec eventually finally nailed a kill. The Blue Streaks followed with two hitting errors, the second after a one-handed reaction dig by Svec. The score was 23-10.
Svec’s spike through the block on the left ended the match.
“We stuck to it” Graman said after the match. “We couldn’t let off, we knew we had to keep the momentum going”. Graman explained that Seton’s game plan was to “run a quick offense and set the pace”. Saints Coach Beth Sander was impressed with the way Magnificat stayed in game two, but she thought her team's overall skill would prevail. The Saints' plan she said was simply “to play our game”.
They did just that.
Stats: Seton: Digs: Lottman 20, Svec 9; Kills: Meyer 11, Svec 9; Blocks: Graman 4, Metzger 3; Assists: Lietz 21
Magnificat were fortunate to reach the final, rallying from a 6-14 game three deficit to beat Norwalk 25-20, 24-26, 25-23. The Lady Truckers, whose starting lineup consists of 3 juniors, 2 sophomores and 2 freshmen, took down Padua Franciscan in the opener 25-16, 25-17 and topped St. Joseph Academy for third 25-19, 25-19.
Don’t let their youth fool you. Middle hitter Kelli Weininger and libero Sam Obringer, both juniors, played for the Black Swamp 16 squad that took gold in the USAV National this summer. Freshman outside hitter Sydney Obringer was a member of the Black Swamp 15’s that also took gold. She was named to the national all-tourney team. Sophomores Mikailey Rogers and Abby Moffit were on that team as well.
The Lady Truckers are not overly big, but their defense can drive opponents mad. Digging and strong serving by Moffitt resulted in a nine point run to a 14-6 lead in game three. Weininger scored two on kills, and although the other seven came off errors, there were many long volleys.
Magnificat started their way back on a four-point run started by junior outside Emily Velten, with defensive specialist Faith Bindernagel contributing an ace. In the end the Truckers could not contain Balser who slammed eight kills, including the match winner.
In the match for third place, St. Joseph Academy led Norwalk 13-11 in game one after kills by middle hitter Alexandra Ehrett and right side Kaleigh Maxwell. Norwalk went ahead on a cross-court blast by Weininger, a kill from senior right side Abby Miller and an ace by freshman outside/defensive specialist Alicia Lortcher.
St. Joseph retied on a cross-court termination from 5’10” outside hitter Allie Zubkowicz, but Weininger answered that and Moffit served up five points including three aces to put Norwalk atop 20-14.
A block by Jaguar 6’0” sophomore middle Greta Burry cut the lead to 20-16, and after Norwalk advanced to 22-16, junior outside Nikki Zubkowicz spiked a kill and setter Breana Terlop served an ace for the Jaguars. With the score 23-19, Lortcher spiked two kills to end it.
Sydney Obringer led Norwalk down the stretch in game two.
Padua topped Brecksville 25-18, 25-21 in a struggle for fifth that seemed like it should have been for the title the way the two teams were pounding the ball.
Senior outside/right side Nicole Trapp led a five-point Padua burst from a 3-3 tie in game one. The Lady Bruins advanced to 13-7 on kills by outsides Sarah Peterson and Maci Budzik.
Brecksville sophomore setter Nikki D’Anna dumped into a hole and the Bees closed to 13-10 on an ace by libero Hannah Nowacki, and a termination from 6’0” University of New Hampshire bound outside/middle Abby Brinkman.
But Padua answered with five more as Budzik contributed two aces, and Trapp a block slam. Trapp sparked another four-pointer with a termination. The game ended with Brecksville hitting into the net after repeated saves by Padua libero Jenna Veres.
Trapp kicked off game two with another termination and Padua jumped out 4-0. Senior 6’0” middle hitter put Brecksville on the board with a big slam and the Bees tied at seven on two demolitions by Brinkman. With the score still knotted at 10, Trapp started a run to 17-11.
Brecksville battled back again, led by Brinkman’s blocking and hitting, and helped by a great dig from D’anna. The Bees went ahead 21-20 as junior outside Emery Sirna spiked a kill, and Orlandi blocked Budzik.
Budzik, however, retorted with a terminating shot down the left, with middle blocker Marissa Jay faking to her right, and the Bees touched the net defending against a Bruin missile that sailed long. A block by Jay resulted in a double hit, and after a long hit by the Bees, Budzik blocked a tip to end the match.
Parma Heights Holy Name downed Sylvania Northview for seventh 25-18, 25-8. Holy Name junior Megan Flaherty was undoubtedly the shortest player in the tournament, but she served the longest run. The 4’10” libero opened game two with sixteen straight points, seven of them aces or otherwise unreturned. Two seemed headed out but dropped like a rock on the back line. Junior 5’11” middle blocker Leah Switalski scored two block kills and outside hitter Danielle Stelbaskey added a kill.
Northview outside Makena Rhodes finally ended the run with a slam from back court, but the Green Wave moved further ahead 21-3. After a block kill by Lady Kat junior middle Racquel Sohasky, Stelbasky took it to match point with a kill. That brought Flaherty back to the line.
She served an ace.
Seton has had a tough time of it in the rugged Girls Greater Cincinnati League since winning back-to-back state championships in 2004 and 2005. But you would never guess that in Rocky River, where the Fall Showcase is held. Last year Seton forced Magnificat to pull out all the stops before bowing 21-25, 25-20, 25-23 in the title match. In 2009 they finished third after losing to eighth rated Brecksville 25-21, 25-23 in the second round. Padua Franciscan ended fifth in that Showcase and went on to capture the Division II state title. The Saints won the Showcase in 2007 and 2006.