By Drew Karpen
The Meadville Tribune
October 24, 2012 7:00 a.m. LINESVILLE —
For the Conneaut girls volleyball team, Thursday night’s straight set 25-12, 25-15, 25-15 win over Titusville couldn’t have been scripted any better. On a night where the Eagles honored their four seniors — Hailey Lowery, Melanie Steigerwald, Brittany Shidemantle and Darian Bodnar, Conneaut also improved to 11-1 in the region — finishing the regular season in a first-place tie with Meadville.
“I am so proud of them,” CASH head coach Tim Schleicher said. “We have at least one senior from each of the three schools. It is a nice representation of the group as a whole. As for the tiebreaker, I feel we should have it because we beat Meadville in three sets and they beat us in four.”
While the schools await word for how the playoffs will look, the Eagles new in order to get to that conversation, they would have to take care of business on their homecourt against Titusville.
The Rockets (4-10, 4-8 Region 4) gave the Eagles all they had, but they were not quite strong enough.
For the early part of each set, Titusville was able to hang tough with Conneaut — but the longer they were on the court — the harder it got.
Through the first 10 points of the match, the Rockets were neck and neck with the Eagles. However, down 6-4, things started to unravel for Titusville.
One kill after another by Challen Litwiler and Kristen Baker and the Eagles slowly started separating themselves. With the score 7-5, CASH went on a 8-0 run to gain full control of the set. With set point at 24-12, two of CASH’s seniors Lowery and Bodnar teamed up to deliver the set victory. After a long back-and-forth volley, Lowery delivered a beautiful set pass behind her to a leaping Bodnar for the kill.
“I try to do whatever I can with every set,” Lowery said. “If I don’t have a good set I know I can rely on the girls every time.”
The second set was more of the same story for Titusville. After getting out to an early 7-4 lead, Conneaut went on a 6-0 run, forcing Rockets head coach Melissa Bromley to call a timeout.
The timeout seemed to have no effect on the Eagles, as they went on another 8-2 run, opening up an 18-9 advantage.
Once again facing set point, the Eagles were able to get the job done in one try when Rockets’ middle hitter Meghan Bowser hit the ball into the net while attempting a kill.
“Titusville is a good scrappy team,” Schleicher said. “They have good arms and play hard all the time. We had to work to score our points tonight.”
With a 2-0 lead, the Eagles were looking for the finish. That’s exactly what they got, leading from start to finish in the third set for the 25-15 victory.
Late in the third set, coach Schleicher made the switch to his bench, allowing each senior to come off the home court for the final time to a standing ovation.
“That was the best feeling in the world,” Lowery said. “I can’t believe this day has finally come. It feels awesome to be on a winning team. We have worked so hard for this.”
Leading the way for the Eagles was Litwiler with 12 kills and 13 digs and Baker with 16 kills and 10 digs.
Bodnar added nine kills while Kimberly Litwin had 16 digs. As always, Lowery led the team in assists with 25.
With the Eagles securing the title of co-champs with Meadville in Region 4, coach Schleicher couldn’t be more proud of his team.
“They have improved every week since the start of the season,” Schleicher said. “That’s all we can ask for. This was a goal of ours coming into the season. Now that it is accomplished, we need to move on and focus on the next part of the season.”