January 21, 2011
Homer sweeps by CHS
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Cortland High’s Kaylee Gebhardt (11) spikes the ball during Thursday’s loss to Homer.
Beyond keeping its perfect OHSL Freedom Division record intact against rival Cortland High Thursday night, the Homer Central volleyball team had some extra motivation as the teams met at CHS’s Shafer Gymnasium.
Senior outside hitter Alysha Camp suffered an injury during warmups that cast doubt as to whether she’d be able to play or not. “Alysha was OK to play, but I told the girls that they’d have to step it up because at any time she might have to be pulled out,” Trojans coach Brian Fox said. “They had to come out like a house afire in case something happened, and everyone stepped it up, including Alysha. I don’t know how she played with that big a headache the whole game.”
It all resulted in a 25-18, 25-12, 25-15 sweep by Homer, which has now won nine in a row and is 9-0 atop the league and 11-1 overall. The Purple Tigers, meanwhile, who came in having won their last three and four of their last five, fell to 6-4 in league play and overall.
“I liked the way we were able to turn defense into offense,” Fox said. “We took free balls and down balls and ran them into our fast offense. It’s always tough to play a team the second time around; the first time we played Cortland was our second game of the season (three 25-18 wins Dec. 16) and everyone gets better as the season goes along.”
“We didn’t lose this one based on ability, we lost based on mentality,” Cortland coach Cheri Olson said. “Player-for-player we’re equally matched, but Homer comes in and their girls know they’re going to win and don’t make mistakes. When you play your rival it’s more intense and there’s more pressure, and I think the girls weren’t able get over it. They weren’t doing the things that make us a good team, like passes and defense; it wasn’t there tonight. When your base breaks down, the building falls.
“Sometimes I feel like we have two different teams. Our team has won six, but with the other team, with the four losses, a bug gets into their brains,” he added. “It has nothing to do with skills. This league is evenly-matched, which makes it more fun. But when the mental things happen, those are the ones we lose. Tonight we started out strong, then just let down.”
THE CLOSEST OF the three sets was the opener, which had five ties and three lead changes.
The visitors were down 13-11 before taking charge for good with five straight points off serves by senior libero Katie Camp, Alysha’s twin sister. The run included kills by sophomore middle hitter Lauren Smith and junior middle hitter Katie Sinclair, and gave Homer the lead for good.
Cortland scored the first four points of the second game set serves by senior outside hitter Kaylee Gebhardt before the Trojans scored six points in a row, including two kills by Smith, off serves by senior outside hitter Katelyn Buchanan. The hosts tied the game at 7-7 before the winners scored nine of the next 10 points to take control for good, Sinclair with a kill and a block in that sequence.
The third set saw Cortland lead only once, at 2-1, before Homer went on a 12-2 run that pretty much decided the issue. Purple Tigers senior middle blocker Kelly Knauerhase had five kills in the contest, while Sinclair had four kills and two blocks for the Trojans.
Sinclair finished with 11 kills and three blocks on the night, while Smith had 11 kills and one block. Alysha Camp had 10 kills and five digs, while junior setter Taryn Heath had three aces, two kills, 31 assists and three digs and Katie Camp an assist and eight digs. Knauerhase had nine kills, an assist and two digs for Cortland, while Gebhardt had four kills and 15 digs, junior setter Jenna Gregory a kill, an ace, 16 assists and three digs and senior libero Amanda Shelley an assist and 12 digs.
“Katie had a really good match,” Fox said of Sinclair. I was impressed with the way she blocked on Kelly Knauerhase, who is a very good middle. She’s really good at getting kills and blocks, and really, really helped us out. Taryn heath did a good job of helping us get offense where it was needed.”
“IT’S SUCH A TEAM effort,” Sinclair said when asked about her individual performance. “Alysha really worked hard, and our defense was so good. Everyone was on. When we’re doing well, the credit goes to the defense.
“Our matches are always so big, and every point is so intense, with long rallies — especially against Cortland our rivals. Teamwork has been the key for us this season. Hopefully we can keep going, and can use this match for momentum at the end of the season,” she added.
“One key to our success has been defense, and another is the fact that the kids are like a family,” Coach Fox said. Their chemistry is amazing. There aren’t any egos. They pick each other up when they’re down, and are always there for each other.”
“Katie Dovi (sophomore middle blocker) came off the bench when we needed someone to be aggressive and played hard,” Olson said. “I’m proud of her. Kelly Knauerhase comes to play every time, and when we’re down 24-12 she’s out there playing like it’s 1-1. She has aspirations of playing in college, and anyone would be lucky to have her.
“The plus side is that Homer has no idea of what our team is all about. If we get them in sectionals we could surprise them. I’d like to see that team again.”
Both teams are back in action Monday, Homer in a non-leaguer at Solvay and Cortland hosting Fulton, the JV match set for a 5:30 p.m. start.
HOMER JVs beat Cortland 25-18, 25-19, 25-19 to improve to 8-4 on the season. Logan McEvoy had five kills, two aces and three blocks while Mikayla MacNeil had eight kills and an ace, Jessica Walter four kills, an ace, a block and a dig and Sara Yonta a kill, 12 assists and two digs.
Megan Howard had three kills and five aces for Cortland, while Chelsea Vallilee had a kill, a block and two aces.
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