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Monroeville finishes in district title win over St. Paul

By JOSH MORGRET • Updated Oct 26, 2018 at 4:29 AM

ATTICA — Monroeville has struggled in recently with its ability to close out games.

Not on Thursday.

The Division IV No. 9-ranked Eagles were the team that finished strong, defeating No. 10-ranked St. Paul, 25-19, 26-24, 23-25, 25-23, in a Division IV district championship match late Thursday at Seneca East High School.

Monroeville improved to 22-3 and advances to a regional semifinal at 6 p.m. next Thursday at Uniontown Lake High School.

"My kids played with a lot of heart and a lot of fight," Monroeville coach Kendra Snook said. "We were down in Game 2 and fought back. We were down in Game 3 and almost fought back to win it. They never stopped fighting and played with composure."

After winning the first game comfortably, Monroeville found itself down 24-20 to the Flyers (20-5) in Game 2, but had one last push in it. A kill, coupled with an ace from Adrian Barman cut the lead to four and promoted a timeout from St. Paul coach Nancy Miller.

"I felt like Monroeville was more aggressive at the net tonight than what they were in the first two meetings," St. Paul coach Nancy Miller said. "I felt they serve received the ball well also. I do not think we served the ball as strong as we probably could have."

Kelsie Palmer smacked a kill and two straight errors by the Flyers put Monroeville ahead, 25-24. Another ace from Barman gave the Eagles the lead.

"It would nice to not have to play from behind, but St. Paul is a very good team," Snook said. "We have really been working on finishing our games."

St. Paul responded and took Game 3 after blowing another late lead. The Flyers took a 12-10 lead on the strength of four straight points, but Monroeville responded with a run of four straight points of their own.

Later, a kill by Kylee Brooks gave the Eagles a 22-21 lead, but two kills by the Flyers gave them the lead back. The Eagles were called for a net violation to give St. Paul a 24-22 lead. After a kill by Brooks, Megan Hammersmith put down a kill to get St. Paul on the board.

"I felt that we played on our heels," Miller said. "I felt like we did from the beginning. That is the biggest thing I was trying to get into their heads this week. We needed to go out strong and let it all hang out. For whatever reason, we were just on our heels a little bit tonight."

Game 4 saw even more back-and-forth action. The Flyers took the first significant lead when they scored three straight points for a 17-14 lead. A kill and a block from Anna Lukasko maintained a 21-16 lead for the Flyers, but Monroeville had no thoughts of a Game 5.

Graisyn Yoder recorded a kill and a block to help the Eagles get within 21-19. Monroeville kept the pressure up and tied the game at 22 and 23. The Eagles broke through when St. Paul committed an error and Palmer put down her 11th and final kill for the win.

"Not finishing our games that was a big downfall a few weeks ago," Snook said. "It has been a huge focus of our team. I could hear it on the bench and on the court that they did not panic."

In the regular season, St. Paul won the first meeting in Norwalk in four games on Aug. 28, then held on for a five-game win in Monroeville on Sept. 25.

Thursday’s match was the sixth district title meeting between the two Firelands Conference foes in a 10-year stretch, with the Eagles winning in 2013, 2014, 2015 and Thursday night, while St. Paul won in 2009 and 2011.

Hammersmith and Kamryn Maxwell each had 12 kills for the Flyers. Hammersmith added 19 assists while Maxwell had 16 digs. Lukasko and Holly Powers each had eight kills while Dyllan Knoll registered 19 assists.

"I did not feel like we serve received as well as we could have," Miller said. "I do not feel we were as aggressive at the net. A lot of that was because Monroeville kept us out of system on serve receive. In turn, we were giving them an easier ball back and they were attacking very strong at the net."

Brooks paced the Eagles wirh 17 kills while Barman had 14 kills and 14 digs. Yoder tallied 10 kills while Camryn Hedrick had 52 assists and 11 digs. Stacia Stieber tallied 33 digs.

"I think both teams made huge adjustments," Snook said. "Both teams are well-coached. We do our homework and we watch film. We try to pick out their weakness and strengths and adjust accordingly."

St. Paul graduates just two seniors: Maxwell and Lauren Chandler.

"For us to graduate six seniors like we did last year and come back like we did and be co-conference champions, is good," Miller said. "I think to have success as we did this year was a tribute to their hard work. I thought the underclassmen did a phenomenal job with that."

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