AUSTINTOWN OH- Austintown Fitch found themselves in a district semifinal Tuesday against a Massillon Perry team that swept them in the regular season. They were determined to have a different outcome, and they did. It took every ounce of what the Falcons had, and some new faces stepping up for the Falcons to overcome Perry in five sets (26-24 16-25 23-25 28-26 15-13).
The first set established the tone the whole match would carry. Two evenly matched teams trading blows. Perry’s strength was through the middle of their offense, so right away Cate Maguire and Jocelyn Jourdan the two middle blockers for the Falcons stepped up with plays. Fitch was able to secure clutch points down the stretch, which would also continue to be a theme on the night to win set 1 26-24.
The second set is where the Falcons started to stumble a bit. Perry made adjustments, and the Falcons could not get good serve receive, their defense against Perry’s opposite side hitter faltered, and their net defense weren’t getting hands on swings. Perry dominated set 2 25-16.
Perry took that momentum into set 3 opening up a big lead early. Things started to turn when the Falcons erased a 12-5 deficit to get back into the set. Jourdan served up the rally to get the Falcons back in it. During the third set, another change came. With senior setter Emma Bartlett struggling a bit, Coach Bartlett went to her bench and put in junior Erin Burke who brought a huge spark to the defense, and offense. Even though Fitch found a rhythm, they couldn’t pull out set 3 and fell behind 2-1 in the match.
With their backs against the wall the Falcons once again fell behind early in set 4. Perry jumped out to a 10-2 lead. But it was Burke once again who brought a flow to the Fitch offense. Senior Samira McWreath also came in and sured up Fitch’s defense, and serve receive. Making some serious effort plays down the stretch to fend off a couple Perry match points the Falcons were able to win set 4 28-26 and force a set 5.
3 of Perry’s first four points in set five were off of service errors. When you took those away it was clear to see Fitch was playing better at that moment. They were the team consistently in system, and consistently getting good swings on the ball. Perry fought their way to a 13-13 tie. Fitch got the next point, and then with match point a Perry net violation ended it.
Jourdan dazzled with 30 kills on night. Burke led the team and set up 28 assists. Alyssa Leskovac led the defense with 15 digs.
The Falcons now advance to the district championship as they will hit the road to Nordonia on Saturday. That match is set for 1:00.