EAST PALESTINE OH- The OHSAA Volleyball tournament is Down to its sweet 16 and we have 3 teams in the YSN family hoping to keep advancing the in the regional rounds. All regional semifinal matches are slated for Thursday night and we have all you need to know about each team’s matchups with our regional preview.
Wellsville vs Monroeville 5:30 at Uniontown Lake High School
The Tigers are coming off a decisive district championship victory over Western Reserve. They swept a good Blue Devils team that beat them in five sets earlier in the season. Emma Smith was a big reason why. She led the team with 13 kills and 4 blocks. Smith is the player to watch as the Tigers continue in the tournament. She leads the team in kills with 305. The Tigers gave other options that will need to step up. Teams can have to have multiple reliable hitters to advance at this level. The Tigers have 3 other players with over 100 kills. The 6-2 rotation lends itself to always having hitters available in the front row. And the Tigers have two setters that both do a great job moving the ball around. The biggest thing to watch for the Tigers success is their block. They blocked very well against Western Reserve and as the level of play gets higher, their front row will need to prove they can consistently get hands on balls. That will force attack errors trying to avoid the block.
The Tigers opponent Monroeville comes in to the match undefeated, and have yet to lose a set in tournament play. Their strength is their middle blocker Kylee Brooks who has 319 kills on the season. That is a big matchup between her and the blockers of the Tigers. It won’t be easy. Brooks hitting percentage is .404 which tells me she hasn’t been challenged too much in the block.
For me, the Tigers key to victory is moving their outsides and spreading the ball around. They have a more spread out offense by the numbers. They have to make Brooks run across the net. If they let her stay stationary, or become predictable on offense they will have a tough time.
Mineral Ridge vs Dalton 7:30 at Uniontown Lake High School
The Rams come into regionals with a record of 22-2 and won their district championship in four sets over Columbiana.
Katelyn Lesko is the heart and soul of the Ridge offense. If she finds a rhythm, the other hitters will as well. Katelyn demands so much attention from the opponent’s block that the other hitters usually end up with either an open net, or a one on one situation. The question for the Rams is will they be able to capitalize on those opportunities. The Rams have arguably the best setter in the area in Danielle Aulet. Her volleyball IQ and instincts are at the highest level.
For the Rams, their biggest challenge will be consistently passing and getting in to system. They struggled with serve receive at times against Columbiana and they need to sure that up. With the size disadvantage they have, they cannot afford to be consistently out of system and become easy to block. I think the player to watch outside of the obvious for Ridge is Morgan Sigley. Not only is her serve deadly, but she fills in the front row while Lesko rotates to the back. Sigley has to stay aggressive and put the pressure on the opponents outsides.
Ridge’s opponent Dalton doesn’t have the best record in the world, coming in to the match with a 16-8 record, but don’t let that fool you, Dalton plays a very tough schedule. Smithville who is the Division III regional semifinal pops up on their schedule twice, along with volleyball powerhouse Orrville. The Bulldogs have a deadly 1-2 punch in middle blocker Brennah Arnold, and outside Tess Denning. Arnold has 320 kills, and Denning has 229. This will make it very tough for Ridge to key in on one of them. Dalton hits pretty efficiently with an impressive team hitting percentage of .256, so I expect the Rams will have to match that and try to stay away from unforced errors.
Crestview Vs Smithville 8:00 at Barberton High School
The Rebels are making their second trip to Barberton for a regional semifinal in two years. However, this team looks a lot different than last year’s. Eight seniors gone, no problem for the Rebels. They have introduced the amazing 1-2 punch of Grace Auer and Lucy Montgomery, who both have multiple triple doubles on the season. Watching this Rebels team, it’s hard to pick out a glaring weakness. They pass well, they have two great setters, who double as strong hitters. They have a pair of strong muddled in Shelby Rambo, and Molly Emch. Montgomery is one of unique hitters at this level that hits better down the line than cross court. A lot of teams are not used to a hitters first option be down the line. It will be interesting to see how Smithville decides to come out initially on defense, and then what kind of adjustments they make if Montgomery consistently hits line.
Smithville is a solid team in a tough conference. They come in with a record of 23-1. Smithville is led by a dominant 5’11 outside hitter in Brooke Fatzinger, she is just 4 kills away from 400 on the season. The Rebels also can’t sleep on Brooke Karlen who has 236 kills herself. The Smithies are another efficient team hitting at a percentage of .268. The Rebels have a higher percentage though hitting .279. This could be a very clean volleyball match, which is always fun to watch. Smithville only have 38 blocks on the season so the Rebels may have an advantage in the middle with Emch and Rambo.
Stay tuned to YSN’s twitter account for score updates throughout the night for all three of the matchups.