It’s never a bad thing for an inexperienced team to get tested, especially early in a season. Orrville’s volleyball team is being tested right now after two tough losses against larger schools to open the season. Though it can be a bit tough at times to get through, a lot can be learned. One of the biggest lessons to learn is how to react to adversity.
The result of Thursday night’s match versus the Wadsworth Grizzlies (1-0) at Bob Knight Gymnasium wasn’t what the Red Riders (0-2) had in mind as it was the Grizzlies who returned home with the non-league, straight-set victory, 25-7, 28-26, 25-20.
With it being the Red Riders’ home opener and coach Sandra Davault’s first year at the helm of the Orrville program, it is understandable that nerves might have been a bit of a factor for the Lady Riders. But credit the Grizzlies and the play of junior Kacie Evans, who dominated the net all evening. The Lady Riders dug themselves a huge hole to begin the match and were understandably a bit shell-shocked after fumbling their way to a 25-7 first set defeat.
Rather than tucking tail and shutting down, Orrville did a fantastic job of digging their heals in to start the second set by trusting their defensive assignments and making some adjustments at the net to push the Grizzlies into an extended battle. It was the serve reception and defensive play of Ashley Kinnard along with some dialed-in passing from seniors Emma Horsburgh and Allie Emler that set the table for Orrville to get their offense going.
However, Wadsworth earned the second set victory, 28-26, and Evans was at it again with the help of freshman lefty Becca Dunkle. Evans led Wadsworth on the night with 24 kills and was an imposing presence at the net, playing the entire floor well. The University of Georgia recruit showed her versatility by hitting from all positions and kept Orrville on their toes.
Coach Davault liked how her team bounced back in the second set. “I’m really happy with the way we fought back tonight. We had a pretty rough start in the first set, but the girls did a great job of working together, playing hard and competing. Wadsworth is going to be one of the best teams we see all year, and if we compete the rest of the way like we did in the final two sets tonight, we are going to be alright.”
Evans and Dunkle were at it again for the Grizzlies in the third and final set, but it was Evelyn Haydu who stepped up her game for Wadsworth earning, three kills in the set. Riley Renner and junior Shadra Hamsher both played a solid third set to keep the Orrville attack going. Renner had a couple of kills, some solid serving that included an ace and a nice defensive effort overall for the set. In the end Wadsworth was victorious, and Evans put an exclamation point near the end of the match, 25-20.
Nice pancake & defensive effort by Orrville, but Wadsworth’s Kacie Evans eventually makes the Riders pay. Grizzlies 24 – Red Riders 20 pic.twitter.com/YhAIpW83aN
— OhioSportsTicket.com (@OhioTicket) August 24, 2017
After facing two larger schools with quality programs, like Lake and Wadsworth to start the season, Davault is optimistic that her squad will learn from the experience and realize they can hang with anyone as long as they play together as a team. “The girls battled back and took it to them. We are realizing we can compete with larger schools, and that confidence is only going to help as the season plays out.”
For the Lady Riders, Shadra Hamsher stuffed the stat sheet with seven kills while also leading the way with 11 assists to go along with nine digs and three service points. Her fellow setter, senior Maddie Eyler, had 10 assists, five digs and an ace. On the passing front, junior Ashley Kinnard seemed to be all over the court and led the way with 12 digs and 27 serve receptions. Renner finished the match with three kills, two blocks and three service points including an ace. Sierra Hamsher, just a sophomore, enjoyed four kills on 12 attempts to go with four blocks and eight digs. Emler, senior back-row specialist, had 10 digs and three service points.
Orrville will look to bounce back and get into the win column when they travel to Fairless on Tuesday. The junior varsity match will begin at 6 p.m.