West Holmes Volleyball

Titans edge Lady Knights in an exciting 3-game match

Triway and West Holmes light up the Dungeon as mentor faces pupil

The mentor and the pupil got together for a bit of area volleyball magic on Saturday, Aug. 31 at West Holmes High School, where John Finn’s Triway Titans faced Sydney Mast’s West Holmes Lady Knights.

Finn coached Mast at Central Christian for four years, and in Mast’s senior season, she led the Comets to a state tournament appearance before the huge-hitting and fiery Mast ventured off to play four years at Cleveland State University. During her time at Central Christian, the two developed a tremendous bond, Finn as the teacher and Mast as the student.

On Saturday the mentor took care of the mentee in what was a terrific day of volleyball action in which both sides played with plenty of spirit and toughness.

While the Titans won in three games, 25-19, 25-21, 25-20, all three were hotly contested, and The Dungeon at West Holmes was rocking with both schools boasting nice student body cheering sections.

“That was a fun atmosphere today,” Finn said. “We played well, and they really gave a great effort. They are a lot better now than what we saw this summer, and this was another good challenge for us because they were actually better than we thought they would be.”

The first game was back and forth early, but mid-way through the Titans forged a seven-point lead on a kill from freshman Clowie Flinner. That set the stage for them to roll to a 25-19 win as the two teams almost traded points the rest of the way out.

Game two looked like a yawner as Triway’s big hitter Natalie Adams kick-started a huge early run, and the leadership of Allie Malone, who was allover the floor, spotted Triway to a 10-1 advantage.

But West Holmes dug deep, and with Nadia Rouse serving and Megan Jones, Chloe Roach and Regan Wilcox playing strong defense at the net, the Lady Knights started chipping away. With every point West Holmes drew closer and the gym got louder, and after a long uphill climb, WHHS had trimmed the Triway lead to just 22-20.

However, when Triway absolutely had to have its points late to secure a win, setter Rilee Kotewicz found Adams, who helped the Titans withstand the comeback bid to pull out a win.

Game three was just another tight battle with Triway holding a two-point advantage throughout much of the second half after the game was tied at 14.

Jones played a spectacular game three, springing the Lady Knights on with her high-energy play. She recorded a kill and two block kills, which left the Lady Knights trailing 21-20, but again Kotewicz knew who to feed late, and the Titans fed off of Adams. On the final point, the big-hitting sophomore had three kill attempts blocked but stayed with it and finally found the winning formula to end the game.

“She’s just a tremendous player and a tremendous young lady,” Finn said of Adams. “She is like a bazooka out there and just buries points, but to her credit, a lot of them come when we need them most.”

The final point showed just how poised and beyond her years Adams is.

“She is a sophomore, but she is very mature, and she has refined her game immensely. She is a crunch-time player.”

While Triway has three big hitters, the player who stirs it up and makes it go is Malone, a spitfire player who roams the floor like a wolverine, waiting to attack potential kills.

“She’s a general out on the floor, and she makes plays relentlessly,” Finn said. “It’s kind of weird, and you never want to take someone for granted, but we just expect her to make those kinds of special plays.”

From the first serve to the final point in which the Lady Knights turned away four kill attempts at the net before falling, West Holmes showed true grit and determination and finally showed the excitement level that Mast has been waiting to see.

“Finally,” Mast said of her team’s enthusiasm. “They finally picked up on the fact that energy makes a difference in momentum, and the more energy we have, the more it freaks out the opponent. That made the gym a much better atmosphere to play in, and it showed in the way we played.”

If any single point exemplified the Lady Knights’ heart and determination, it was on a ball that was whistled dead, yet West Holmes actually made two outstanding plays to get the ball over the net and force a replay.

On the play the initial ball was sent flying toward the West Holmes bench, where Abbie Allison flew over and kept the ball alive. Meanwhile Sarah Anderson went careening into the Lady Knights bench and somehow sent the ball flying back over her head and across the net.

Then there was the play of Megan Jones at the net. The sophomore put her team on her back several times as she stood tall at the net. While those players stood out, it was a total team effort for West Holmes that Mast had been looking for all season.

“We aren’t very big up front, and we are going to be the underdog in a lot of games we go into, but when we get that type of effort from the girls, we are going to be successful,” Mast said. “We were covering defensively when we got blocked. We were diving after balls and scrapping for every point. We fell behind 10-1 in the second game and never quit playing hard. A game like this one is only going to help give us more confidence in ourselves that we can play at a high level.”

The blocking aspect of the game was especially pleasing to Mast. While undersized against a trio of big Titans’ hitters, the Lady Knights did a fine job at the net in thwarting Triway’s hitters.

“We got into position, and we were disciplined at the net all day,” Mast said. “I saw us getting a lot better today, and I hope that is exciting for the girls to see.”

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