Young Toronto swept by East Palestine

TORONTO — A rough start set the tone for the Toronto volleyball team, which struggled at the outset, and East Palestine took advantage as the Bulldogs defeated the Red Knights in three sets, 25-7, 25-16, 25-15.

“They are a good team,” Toronto head coach Cathie Thomas said about the Bulldogs. “We are extremely young. We only have two seniors who are returning lettermen. We have one senior who has not played in two years. In our nine-player rotation, we have three sophomores and three freshmen. It is really a rebuilding year. Tonight, we just came out very flat. We beat ourselves in the first set. We made stupid mistakes. We didn’t make good passes. We had seven attack errors. We had more errors than kills. You can’t win a game doing that. In the past, we would have 30 kills a game. Now, we are lucky if we get half of that. We are just very young. We have a lot to get better at.”

East Palestine got off to a good start in the match, and the Bulldogs did not look back.

“The girls played well,” East Palestine head coach Denise Pickett said. “We had a lot of teamwork. The girls are starting to jell. We have turned a corner in the second half of the season. We are doing much better.”

For the Red Knights (2-12), Jamie Anderson delivered five kills, two blocks and two block assists. Madison Sapp produced 16 receptions. Kendall Thomas collected three blocks and two block assists. Maddie Anderson added two blocks and two block assists. Jenna Leasure scored four points to go along with one ace and three kills. Gina Fogle finished with 13 receptions. Jocelyn Merideth tallied four points and two aces.

“We played them early in the season at home,” Pickett said. “They have a couple of girls who can really swing. I was impressed with their digging. They got digs whenever we hit the ball.”

For the Bulldogs (8-6), Marlaina Frye finished with 10 kills and three blocks. Jenn Rhodes recorded 23 points and 15 digs. Madyson Pickett produced 12 assists and seven points. Emily Berger ended up with six points and five kills. Madelyn Foster delivered three kills, 17 digs and five points.

“I’m looking to the future, but I want to make sure our seniors get their recognition and they get their stats,” Thomas said. “I make out several game lineups. I will make out three or four lineups, and the girls I will go with is based on how they warm up. The girls just came out flat. We had a hard time setting. We had a hard time hitting. No matter what we did, there was no solution. We gave it away tonight. I don’t want to take anything away from them. They are a good team. They have a nice team. We are young, and we are going to have a hard time. The girls need to mature as athletes — not just skill-wise, but also mentally. I think volleyball is more mental more so than any other sport. The girls just have to get more confident.”

With the win, East Palestine is 5-5 in EOAC play.

“The first time we played them was the first time I have ever seen them,” Coach Pickett said. “This was the second showing.”

The Bulldogs won the JV match, 25-18, 25-14.

For East Palestine, Juli Jones scored nine points, and Madelyn Hostetter collected 11 points and three aces.

East Palestine is scheduled to return to the court at 10 a.m. Saturday at home against Mohawk.

Toronto is slated to return to the court at 5:30 p.m. Monday against rival Catholic Central.