Kirtland held off a dangerous Lakeview team in a Division III district semifinal and advanced to a fourth straight district championship game.
The Hornets defeated the 20-win Bulldogs 25-21, 25-21, 25-20 and will play Columbiana Crestview for the district title in a rematch of last year’s district championship.
“I’m very pleased,” said Kirtland coach Ricky Sanders. “We scouted Lakeview from their last match and with our game plan of keeping them out of system. It worked the whole match. Their talented middle couldn’t get on.”
Kirtland recorded five aces and used aggressive serving to keep Lakeview uncomfortable.
“We served tough tonight and attacked them down the line on both sides to eliminate their blocking out the middle,” Sanders said. “We played from behind all three sets but kept our composure throughout.”
Battling through adversity is nothing new for the Hornets, who improved to 16-8.
“It’s super exciting to be back at districts,” said senior setter Katie Reynolds. “We struggled this season at times, and I think there was a period when we all thought this just wasn’t our year. I’m so glad we’ve found ways to persevere and fight all the way back to districts.”
Reynolds and Alexis Schaffer combined for 35 assists in the match with Schaffer posting a team-high 19 and Reynolds with 16.
Their successful distribution of the volleyball allowed six different Hornets to earn a kill.\
Nina Loncar led the way with 16 and Georgia DeJohn added 12. Keely Young contributed with seven, Kristiana Katic added five, Nora Withrow pitched in with four, and Reynolds had one kill.
“Nina Loncar and Keely Young both had great offensive matches tonight,” Reynolds said. “Nina could not be stopped hitting down the line, racking up a lot of kills this game. Keely was terminating from the middle and right side, and she gets our team pumped up when she makes great plays. Nora Withrow also made an impact from the right side, putting down the sets she got and making some great diving plays.”
The Hornets now turn their attention to avenging their district championship game loss to Crestview, who won that match 26-24, 25-23, 23-25, 25-17.
“The team is all excited to see Crestview again,” Reynolds said. “We all know they’re a great team, but we watched their match before ours and know if we play our best, they’re beatable. These next two practices will mean a lot to the game on Saturday, and we’re ready to put in the work to get the gold medal instead of the silver this year.”
Crestview is 25-0 and has won 75 of 76 sets played this season.
“Crestview will be a huge challenge for us with their tall middle and smart setter,” Sanders said. “We did scout them as well tonight so we will put together a game plan as well and see if we can advance.”