Kirtland’s volleyball team remained focused in sweeping host Grand Valley on Wednesday.
The Hornets, who host league rival Berkshire on Thursday, defeated the Mustangs 25-8, 25-17, 25-14 in improving to 5-0 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division.
“The girls wanted to play fast tonight,” said Kirtland coach Ricky Sanders. “They were highly motivated and didn’t want to overlook Grand Valley tonight, so they handled their business and very much look forward to (Thursday’s) match-up with Berkshire.”
The Hornets reached the halfway point of their conference schedule unblemished and haven’t lost a conference match since Sept. 9, 2020.
Since then, Kirtland is 32-0 in CVC Valley Division matches with 10-3 Berkshire visiting the Hornet’s Nest on Thursday, it would have been easy to overlook the Mustangs. Instead, the Hornets remained focused on the task at hand and cruised to their fifth win in their last six matches.
“We have always been told by our coaches to focus on one game at a time to prevent distractions,” said junior libero Nina Alfieri. “Although we do have a big game coming up (on Thursday), without full focus on the current game we can get ahead of ourselves. As a team today, we really focused on playing to our level.”
Kirtland got off to a fast start and never looked back.
Senior Nina Loncar led the Hornets with 15 kills, freshman Bria Golem posted a team-high five service aces, senior Alexis Schaffer posted 25 assists, and Alfieri recorded a team-high 11 digs.
“Defense is always a priority for our team,” Alfieri said. “Because of the loss of our libero, I try my best to fill that position. It’s important to me because without a strong defense it’s hard to have a successful season.”
Kirtland’s biggest test of the season will take place on Thursday night when the Badgers look to knock off the Hornets and keep alive their own hopes of winning the Valley Division title.
A win would give Kirtland a two-game advantage in the league standings with just four conference matches remaining, while a loss would leave the Hornets and Badgers in a two-way tie for first place.
It’s matches like this one the Hornets are using to prepare them for the rigors of the postseason.
“I feel that the competition is preparing us for playoff season,” Alfieri said. “Since game one, we have improved so much as a team from individual skills to our skills as a team, therefore I feel very confident on these upcoming games.”