The Cardington volleyball team had a successful day Saturday when they hosted Liberty Union in a sectional match-up.
In beating the Lions 25-15, 25-21, 25-16, they claimed their 15th win of the season, which is a new school record. They also claimed their first tournament win in seven years and made their first district semifinal match in a long time.
“The program has definitely taken a turn and it was with these seniors,” said head coach Ryan Treese. “They really bought into what we’re doing, so the younger kids follow suit.”
Paige Clinger scored three early points in the first set to stake the Pirates to a 4-1 lead, but the Lions rallied to lead 7-5. However, a defensive point followed by three from Hannah Wickline put Cardington in front 9-7 and they would not relinquish that lead. Cardington only gave up two points to the LU serve over the rest of the set, while they got two each from Gabby Snodgrass and Jillian Mills and three each from Clinger and Kyleigh Bonnette to pull away for a 25-15 win.
One big advantage Cardington had throughout the match was at the net, as the duo of Clinger and Wickline had no trouble racking up kills and blocks against their shorter opponents from Liberty Union.
“Most people probably wouldn’t put them in front together, but it’s working,” said Treese. “Paige leads the team in serving, attempts and kills.”
The Pirates jumped out to an early lead in the second game, as Mills opened the set with six straight service points. One from Clinger and two from Bonnette boosted the team’s advantage to an 11-2 margin. The team would later get three from Kirsten Bonnette and an additional one from Clinger to lead by as much as a 20-8 margin.
Liberty Union was able to make a big run towards the end of the set, as Treese put in less experienced players, including three who got their first taste of varsity action. However, the Pirates were able to get enough stops to hold on for a 25-21 win.
They then prevented the Lions from getting any momentum from their strong finish to the second set, as they got a quick defensive point and two from Clinger’s serve to score the first three of the third. Leading 9-6, they would get two from Mills, three from Clinger and three from Kyleigh Bonnette to lead 19-9.
While they would only get one more offensive point in the game, off the serving of Wickline, their defense would preserve that lead, as they claimed the three-set sweep of the Lions.
This week, Cardington will go up against Pleasant in the district semifinals. Having played them to start out the season, Treese knows what to expect from the Spartans.
“We played them our first game of the season and took a set from them and two others were 25-23,” he said.. “If we can control on offense, I think we can compete because, like Highland, they have a girl who’s going to get kills and you can’t do anything about it.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS