With so many young players on the floor, host St. Paul turned to one of its two seniors during a big Firelands Conference match against Monroeville.
Senior outside hitter Kamryn Maxwell (5-feet-11) finished with 23 kills, 16 digs, and served 14 points with six aces in the four-game win over the Eagles.
St. Paul (2-0, 2-0) won by scores of 25-17, 25-19, 19-25, 25-19 over Monroeville (3-1, 1-1).
But out of all of Maxwell’s hitting exploits, no spot was bigger than in Game 4. The two teams were tied at 17, with the Eagles threatening to force a decisive fifth set. But Maxwell rose up and put down a kill that bounced off a Monroeville player and hit the ceiling for a 19-17 lead — which also got the crowd on its feet.
Teammate Megan Hammersmith quickly followed suit with a kill to go up 20-17, then an ace by Maxwell helped push the lead out to 22-18. Holly Powers finished off the 25-19 win with a match-sealing kill to the left side.
“We were in a good rotation there with Kamryn,” St. Paul coach Nancy Miller said. “She was nothing but a pure leader for us tonight. Especially just with her actions for teammates.
“Kamryn played with such confidence and poise, which is a huge step and a big direction for her,” she added.
St. Paul controlled from the outset in the first game, jumping out to an 18-12 lead that it steadily maintained from there in the 25-17 win.
The Eagles, however, kept Game 2 interesting throughout. A tip over the net by Kelsie Palmer tied the score at 19, but St. Paul quickly seized the momentum back with a Danielle Smith block at the net. It was a 21-19 lead when Maxwell again put down a pair of aces while serving, and Powers again finished off a 25-19 win with a kill.
As nearly every set has played out in this rivalry for the past decade, the third game was again tied late (19-19) — but this time the Eagles took control behind sophomore Kylee Brooks.
After Maura Brown gave the Eagles the lead, Brooks ripped off the final four points for her team in a 25-19 win to keep the match going.
Brooks finished with 11 kills and two blocks.
“She’s only 5-10 but plays like a 6-footer,” Monroeville coach Kendra Snook said of Brooks. “She jumps very well. It’s hard to defend the right side from any team, and especially when you have someone that big who can put the ball away.
“But the downfall of that is, in order to get it to her you have to be in system and be able to pass the ball,” she added. “When we can get the ball, she can take over a match. We have to make sure we can continue to be in system. But again, we just have to keep getting better.”
Snook said ball control and defense is what won the match for St. Paul.
“When our ball control was on, we controlled the momentum,” she said. “But when we lost it, they went a few scoring runs — and defensively they dug a few more balls than us.
“I thought we played well defensively and dug a lot of balls — but ew let too many easy ones drop,” Snook added. “Offensively I thought we did a nice job mixing it up and not making a ton of hitting errors. But again, we have some young hitters that I think learned a lot tonight and will continue to get better.”
Also for the Eagles, Camryn Hedrick finished with 41 assists and two aces. Palmer had 13 kills, while Brown added six kills, two blocks and 10 digs. Adrian Barman and Graisyn Yoder each had eight kills, and Stacia Stieber had 27 digs, while Maddie Elmlinger had 12.
For St. Paul, Powers had 11 kills, with Hammersmith adding eight kills to go with 12 points, three aces and 24 assists. Kennedy Stang had 29 digs, seven points and four aces, while Dyllan Knoll had 18 assists and Josie Skinn served eight points.
The Lady Flyers, who host Crestview on Thursday before heading to Sidney on Saturday for an Invite, had played just one match prior to Tuesday’s win.
“I was just so proud of the kids for the way they responded in a big match,” Miller said. “We only have two seniors and there are three freshmen seeing serious time — it’s just different for them.
“That junior class is such a force right now in that gym, and not all of them have had a huge amount of playing time yet, either,” she added. “They will get better, they just need a lot of reps in the gym and that’s going to come with time.”
St. Paul also won the junior varsity match, 25-15, 25-10. Stevi Ward had 13 points and 15 assists, while Karlie Rudolph added nine kills and Maddie Jaworski had nine points.