Against Pleasant in their district semifinal volleyball match Thursday night, struggles to consistently score offensively doomed the Cardington girls to a 25-16, 25-16, 25-23 loss that ended their season.
“We hung with, I think, the best team in the district,” said head coach Ryan Treese after the match. “I wish I knew the stat, but it goes back to our serve. It was 1.3 times per serve, maybe less. We couldn’t get a string.”
In the first set, the Pirates couldn’t get an offensive point on their first seven serve attempts. While they played solid on defense, they still trailed 12-7 after their seventh attempt. After Pleasant’s Halle Marvich picked up three points, Cardington got a defensive stop and two scoring serves from Paige Clinger to close within a 15-10 margin.
However, the Spartans would immediately get the ball back and score three times on the serve of Carlie Craycraft to widen their lead to nine points. While the Pirates got a point from Hannah Wickline, they would not be able to score again offensively in falling 25-16.
Cardington got off to a better start in the second game. Getting one point from Clinger and Wickline and three from Liz Long to lead 9-7 in the early going. Unfortunately, that would be the end of their offense in the game, as their other seven points all came from defensive stops.
Meanwhile, the Spartans got five from Marvich and two each from Rachael Harbaugh and Alissa Holler to surge past Cardington. Treese noted that the team also had trouble trying to contain hitter Laina Sansotta, who blasted kill after kill throughout the match.
“She’s probably the fastest player I’ve played against, including boys,” said the coach.
After falling behind 5-2 early in the third game, a defensive point and two Wickline serves tied the score at five. Then, trailing 8-7, the Pirates got three points each from Gabby Snodgrass and Maci Morgan to jump in front 14-9.
Cardington maintained a lead for much of the game, but after another Morgan point made the score 21-17, the team gave up four straight, including three to Holler, to tie things up. With it tied at 22, Pleasant got two from Marvich to go in front. While the Pirates regained serve down 24-23, they were unable to score, allowing the Spartans to clinch the set and match.
After finishing the year with a 15-9 mark, Treese felt his team did a fine job of making it to the district semifinals against a team with far more experience in that setting, adding that they got some nice support from fellow students, as well as younger girls in the program.
“This is probably their seventh or eighth year in a row in the district semis and it’s our first ever,” he said. “The thing I wanted the girls to know is this is an accomplishment. We’re definitely growing roots.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS