Richard Doyle | The Gazette
WESTFIELD TWP. — The Cloverleaf volleyball team entered Tuesday’s Barberton Division I Sectional with an eye on knocking out some Suburban League rivals down the road.
They had to get past an athletic Ellet team first.
Mission accomplished, as the now-healthy Colts remained focused and handed the Orangemen a 25-17, 18-25, 25-18, 25-17 defeat in the semifinals.
Cloverleaf advances to face Copley on Thursday.
“We are a smart team,” senior Kendall Wilde said. “We knew what we needed to do to win, and tonight we executed well.”
The Colts were at full strength for the first time all season and looked toward their senior class for calm leadership and sophomores to add a little bit of power.
In the first game, the Colts rode the solid play of Wilde (13 digs), and the eight-point margin would have been larger if not for exceptional play from Ellet libero Raisha Bedingfield.
Fortunes turned negative for the Colts in the second game, as a series of unforced errors — in particular multiple missed opportunities at the net — caused them problems. Despite the solid play of senior libero Jessie Lindemeyer (13 digs), Cloverleaf couldn’t find its rhythm and Bedingfield wreaked havoc.
The third set was a tug-of-war between the teams, but not on the strength of the play, as both struggled with multiple errors. On two occasions when the Colts were gaining positive momentum, they were stymied by back-to-back service errors.
“We played sloppy,” Cloverleaf coach Jim Vaughn said. “You can tell we were trying to work it out after finally being healthy for the first time all season.”
Fortunately for the Colts, hard-hitting sophomore Samantha Flora came alive with four powerful kills in the third game, including the game-winning spike. Combine that with Bedingfield cooling off and the Colts were back on track.
Cloverleaf looked to Lindeman and Wilde to finish off the Orangemen. Wilde turned out the lights on Ellet with a nine-serve scoring streak that gave Colts an 18-6 lead they never relinquished.
Up next: the Indians, who handed Cloverleaf two five-game losses in SL play.
“We will be ready,” Wilde said. “Hopefully for us, the third time is a charm. Let’s just say we won’t let a close one slip away this time.”
Contact Richard Doyle at firstname.lastname@example.org.