It was Senior Night in Bob Knight Gymnasium on Thursday, Oct. 5 as the Orrville Red Riders (12-7, 8-2) hosted the Manchester Panthers (7-11, 3-7) in PAC volleyball action. Orrville rolled to another three-set victory, 25-3, 25-11, 25-15, behind the strong play of their six seniors.
An inexperienced Manchester team had a slow start to their season including a three-set loss to Orrville in their last meeting on Sept. 21, but the Panthers have been playing .500 ball for the past six matches and were looking to add a big win to their season tally. With three sophomores (Amber Fox, Emily Rucker and Selena Echevarria) leading most of the Panther seasonal statistical categories, there have been plenty of opportunities for Manchester’s young team to grow and gain experience against varsity competition.
On the flip side of the net, whether it was the excitement of Senior Night or the presence of beloved assistant coach Karen Wayt on the sidelines, the Lady Riders played inspired volleyball and pounced on the Panthers. To start the match, senior middle hitter Riley Renner was on fire from the service line with 10 straight service points including two aces. She finished with a whopping 25 points on the night including four aces to go along with four kills and 12 digs.
Senior setter Maddie Eyler took charge of the offense with 23 assists, nine digs and four service points including two aces. She set up senior strong-side hitter Emily Landis early and often with Landis ending the night tied for the team lead in hitting by thumping 11 kills and getting 10 digs. Fellow seniors Allie Emler (six digs), Emma Horsburgh (eight service points with three aces, five digs) and Ally Brown (three kills, three digs) also performed well for the Lady Riders.
Coach Sandra Davault was happy to see her team play with consistency. “It was a very good win tonight. We wanted to make sure no balls dropped tonight, so we’ve been working on running through the ball with our passing this week, and I think it helped. A lot of girls stepped up tonight, but I liked seeing Riley Renner improve her serving. She has been struggling a bit with her serves, and it was nice to see her regain her confidence. It was a good team win, and one we can build on as we head into our matches with Wooster on Saturday and Triway on Tuesday.”
Junior outside hitter Shadra Hamsher stuffed the stat sheet for Orrville as she finished with 11 kills, 11 assists, 11 service points (with three aces), eight digs and two blocks. Fellow juniors Mikaila Carpenter (seven kills) and Ashley Kinnaird (seven service points with two aces, nine service receptions and 10 digs) rounded out Orrville’s solid effort for the match.
Orrville hosts rival Wooster Generals in a nonconference match on Saturday, Oct. 7 at noon. Manchester will look to regroup on Monday, Oct. 9 when they travel to Woodridge.