WESTFIELD TWP. — It’s no secret that Cloverleaf senior Sarah Schleich is the top returning setter in Medina County.
Unfortunately for the Colts, Schleich also might be the best hitter on their inexperienced roster.
That problem was solved — without the aid of cloning — Saturday at the Cloverleaf Volleyball Tournament.
Coach Courtney Maibach switched her team’s offense from a single-setter scheme to a 6-2, allowing Schleich to play both positions.
The move paid off immediately as the Colts won their first match of the season, 25-16, 25-14 over Chippewa to end their afternoon on a high note.
“I love hitting, so I was really happy about the change, but I’m even happier about us winning,” said Schleich, who had five kills and seven assists against the Chipps. “We have such little experience at this (varsity) level that every win is very important.
“It’s also a way to show our gratitude to Coach because we all respect her and know how much she wants us to be successful.”
Cloverleaf lost its opening round match to Nordonia 25-11, 25-18, then dropped a 25-19, 23-25, 25-22 decision to Hudson. It was midway through the latter contest that Maibach made her calculated gamble by moving Katie Carino into the setter spot opposite Schleich on the floor. Schleich responded by leading the Colts in assists (11), digs (9) and service points (8), while firing four kills against the Explorers.
“We kept getting stuck in one or two rotations every game where we couldn’t break serve because Sarah had to be setting,” Maibach explained. “I think Sarah proved what she can do in both spots today.
“I had a hunch this move might work. Now, I have statistical proof — and proof in the mojo we gained from it.”
Taylor Detwiler, who is still battling an ankle injury, paced Cloverleaf with six kills against Hudson, while Katie Simpson had five in the win over Chippewa. Carino had 13 assists in the final two matches, while Nicole Kolodka made 17 digs over the same period.
The Colts (1-4) finished seventh at the eight-team event, which also included backyard rival Medina (2-3).
The Bees began their day with a 25-18, 25-14 win over Chippewa, but wound up in fourth place after losing their next two contests.
Ally Peters ripped 20 kills and Mallory Gustincic had 31 assists as Medina played extremely well in a 24-26, 25-19, 25-20 defeat to powerful North Royalton.
That tough loss sapped Medina of its energy, though, as it fell 25-18, 25-18 to weaker Nordonia.
“We have to play every team as if they were North Royalton, Strongsville or Elyria— not let up and play less fierce when we see someone else on the other side of the net,” Bees coach Jason Schellenberger said.
“It’s frustrating because we played so well against North Royalton, but we couldn’t stop making errors in the next match.”
Peters had a total of 40 kills, while Kaitlyn Witsaman added 12, and Gustincic dished out 76 assists. Lizzie Oda ripped four aces against Chippewa and Elainna Peak had 17 digs against the Bears.
Contact Brian Dulik at email@example.com.