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Thursday night in the valley brought us plenty of fun and interesting volleyball matchups, but perhaps none more interesting than the one occurring at Austintown Fitch High School. As The Falcons welcomed in All America Conference (AAC) rival, The Canfield Cardinals. Billed as “The Battle of the Birds” both Fitch and Canfield looked to put on another show.

Fitch had an opportunity to capture The AAC Championship for three straight years on Thursday night, winning the conference previously in 2020 and 2021. The Cardinals, being no stranger to conference success, have won three straight conference championships as well. Back when it was The All American Red Conference, The Cards took top spot in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

With talent loaded on both sides, it was a matchup that if Fitch won, they would have a share of The AAC crown, where if Canfield won, they would put themselves in position to earn a share of the conference. 

The Falcons came out swinging, after some early back-and-forth in Set 1, Austintown pulled away with a commanding run to seal a 13 point opening set victory. Leading one set to none against Canfield, The Cardinals came out with a fire, unwilling to fall behind two sets. Great serves by Riley Kinkade and Parker Wilkins helped lead Canfield to a 6 point set win.

With things even up at one set a piece, both teams knew the advantage claiming the third set would have. Austintown, again, after a competitive first half of Set 3 by Canfield, The Falcons were able to go on another set sealing run, headlined by Kylie Folkwein behind the service line. Set 4 had The Cardinals backs against the wall and they came fighting with everything they had. The other side saw Fitch knowing the importance of winning Set 4 and not allowing Canfield to take momentum into a fifth set. The Cards grabbed an early 8-2 advantage, before Jocelyn Jourdan slammed down her 1000th career kill. A feat that has NEVER been done before is Austintown Fitch Volleyball history. Jocelyn also etches her name atop the all-time leaderboard for most kills in a career, surpassing Sarah Obradavich’s previous mark at 989 Kills. That kill would slim The Falcons deficit to 5 points and help start the comeback effort for Fitch. 

Austintown battled back to even, exchanging the lead several times throughout the set with Canfield. However, Jocelyn Jourdan was not going to be denied Thursday night, grabbing some key kills late in the set, including the clinching 25th point to cap a slim 4 point set victory and overall match victory against Canfield. 

The win earns The Falcons a share of The AAC Championship for the third consecutive season. Jocelyn Jourdan now owns every kill record at Austintown, while freshmen setter Rylie Simons eclipsed 500 assists this season and is now 23 assists shy of having the most ever in a season for The Falcons. Fitch (14-2) will be out of action for a week until next Thursday, October 6th where they will travel to Boardman (6-8). Despite the loss, Canfield (12-7) will now set their sights on Howland (14-5) when they travel to The Tigers’ den next Thursday as well.

Set Scores

S1: Fitch 25 – 12 Canfield

S2: Canfield 25 – 19 Fitch

S3: Fitch 25 – 15 Canfield

S4: Fitch 25 – 21 Canfield

Match: Fitch 3 – 1 Canfield

*Contributed By YSN’s Ty Bartell

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