Good teams coming off a heartbreaking loss typically respond one of two ways. They either bounce back and dominate their next opponent or they experience a carryover and come out lethargic.
Unfortunately for the Riverdale volleyball team, Upper Sandusky elected the former on Tuesday.
The Rams yielded just 22 points in a three-set North Central Conference walloping of Riverdale, 25-5, 25-7, 25-10, after having four days off to rid the melancholy of a five-set shortfall to Wynford on Thursday.
The Royals were able to offset Upper Sandusky’s trinity of 6-foot, 2-inch hitters during their win against the Rams (6-3, 5-2 NCC) with a career-high 35 kills from outside hitter Paige Brady. The Falcons (3-10, 2-5 NCC), with their tallest player standing no higher than 5-foot, 10-inches, could not.
“It’s good to have the height on our team because you can have faith that your other teammates are going to get the job done out there,” said Taylor Graboski, who was an All-Ohio selection last season.
And they did.
After Graboski’s 15 kills, Jessi Holly, who has a wingspan that would make a pterodactyl blush, had 10 and Molly Owens had eight as the three combined to commit just five errors on 52 attempts. The three were the biggest reason Riverdale attempted just 22 serves on the night.
The Rams still appear to be riding an ace wave they caught in Bucyrus. They tallied 16 aces against the Falcons after racking up 15 against the Royals, who sit atop the NCC Black Division. Kalene Johnson led the way with seven and libero Jenny Holly was right behind with six, including three straight at the beginning of the second set. Graboski, Jessi Holly and Emma Smith each had one.
“We have a lot of good servers and get a lot of good aces, so sometimes teams that are normally stronger teams have a little trouble (against the Rams’ serving),” coach Matthew McConnaughey said. “When you serve tough the other team is out of its system.”
Riverdale was on the receiving end of pinpointed laser beams that never seemed to ebb and either failed to handle them or hit duds back over to the Rams, which resulted in an easy passing night for Upper Sandusky’s back row. Consequently, setters Allison Snyder and Smith had little trouble feeding the three giants, who were able to take full swings on about 90 percent of Smith’s (23) and Snyder’s (13) 36 assists during the match.
“Our offense ran smoothly with four hitters posting at least 10 or more attempts,” McConnaughey said. “Everyone on the court added to our success tonight. It’s great to see enthusiasm, controlled aggression and team work for three straight sets.”
While the Falcons desperately needed her at 100 percent, Catlin Pauley played with an ailing shoulder.
“We were missing our biggest hitter and biggest server,” coach Jenny Young said. “Before the game she felt something in her shoulder pop, so that really affected us. We had some freshmen playing some time tonight that don’t usually get out there.”
Pauley, who leads the team in aces, attempted one serve and hit it out of bounds. She then was substituted for during her serve the rest of the match. She was 4 of 5 hitting and recorded one kill, but had to resort to tip shots or hitting with her opposite hand on several occasions.
When the Rams were not putting the hurting on Riverdale, it did it to itself. The Falcons committed eight errors in the second set and another five in the third after being trounced by 20 points in the opening frame. They displayed a lack of concentration that is becoming all too familiar to Young.
The Falcons rallied in the third set against Liberty-Benton on Monday before falling to the Eagles in the fourth, but had no vital signs against the Rams. It was much like their performance during a tri-match at Carey over the weekend. The Falcons fought back from a 23-17 deficit against Arlington to tie it at 24 before dropping the set to the Red Devils, and then showed zero will to win against the Blue Devils.
“It’s the same story,” Young said. “We’re not getting the consistency. (Monday) we played a great game, went four games against a really good team and then (Tuesday) we didn’t show up. We’re so inconsistent and I keep telling them they need to show up 100 percent of the time.”
Taylor Farmer, Kayclynn Wise and Areaha Dodge were the three freshmen Young brought along. Farmer had two blocks and was 29 of 33 setting with four assists. Jordan York had four blocks and was perfect on eight attacks.
The Rams will play Ontario on the road at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, while Riverdale will host Marion Harding the same day.
Upper Sandusky 3, Riverdale 0
Upper Sandusky (6-3, 5-2 NCC): Jen. Holly, 12-13 serving, 6 aces, 1-1 hitting, 9-9 receiving, 13 digs; Graboski, 5-7 serving, 1 ace, 21-24 hitting, 15 kills, 2-2 setting, 1 assist, 3 blocks; Jes. Holly, 19-20 serving, 1 ace, 15-16 hitting, 10 kills, 2-2 setting, 1 block 13 digs; Smith, 6-6 serving, 1 ace, 3-3 attacking, 38-38 setting, 23 assists, 3 digs; Snyder, 1-1 hitting, 22-22 setting, 13 assists, 1 dig; Kalene Johnson, 15-16 serving, 7 aces, 5-6 hitting, 3 kills, 2-2 setting, 4 digs; Cameron, 15-16 serving, 10-11 hitting, 4 kills, 1-1 setting, 1 assist, 4 digs; Owens, 15-17 hitting, 8 kills, 2 blocks, 2 digs.
Riverdale (3-10, 2-5 NCC): Vaughan, 14-16 passing, 1-1 hitting, 1 dig; Farmer, 2-2 serving, 2-3 passing, 2 blocks, 29-33 setting, 4 assists; Renteria, 2-3 serving, 16-18 passing, 8-12 setting; Dodge, 1-1 serving, 5-7 passing; York, 6-6 serving, 10-10 passing, 3 digs, 8-8 hitting, 4 blocks; Pauley, 0-1 serving, 4-5 passing, 4 digs, 6-7 hitting, 1 kill, 1 block; Wetherill, 1-2 serving, 9-11 passing, 2 digs, 6-9 hitting, 3 blocks.
Upper Sandusky 2, Riverdale 0
Upper Sandusky: Smith, 4-4 serving, 3-4 hitting, 2 kills, 11-11 setting, 2 assists, 1-1 serve receiving, 1 dig; Wentling, 10-10 serving, 3 aces, 5-5 hitting, 1 kill, 23-23 setting, 7 assists, 2 digs; Taylor, 14-15 hitting, 4 kills, 1-1 serve receiving, 1 dig; Roeder, 20-20 serving, 4 aces, 5-6 hitting, 1 kill, 2-3 serve receiving, 1 dig; Walton, 5-5 serving, 2 aces, 5-5 setting, 1 kill, 1-1 setting, 1 assist, 1-1 serve receiving, 1 dig; Caudill, 8-8 serving, 3 aces, 2-4 hitting, 1 kill, 1-1 serve receiving, 6 digs; Thiel, 3-3 serve receiving, 2 digs; Smalley, 2-2 serving, 1 ace, 3-4 hitting, 1-1 setting; Spitler, 0-1 serving, 2-3 serve receiving, 1 dig.
By NICK MARLOW