Red Knights declaw the Wildcats, win first game

TIP DRILL — Toronto’s Jamie Anderson tips the ball to Edison’s Gracie Phillips on Wednesday. (Photo by Joe Catullo)

RICHMOND — The tide turned in the favor of the Toronto volleyball team, and Edison could not stop it.

The Wildcats held on to win the first set, but the Red Knights rallied to win the next three, en route to a 21-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-17 victory over rival Edison on Wednesday.

“We were down 17-10 in the first set, and one thing we have done a lot since the season started is we get up on teams by eight or nine points, and then we start making errors,” Toronto (1-7) head coach Cathie Thomas said. “We start to shag the ball or we hit the ball into the net. We make unforced errors. We start playing tight, and then we panic. We have to be able to be mentally tough. We have to be able to recover from our mistakes and play on. We have been working on that all season. We have to be mentally tough, and we have to finish.

“This is our first win, and I truly believe we can play with just about everyone on our schedule. The girls are athletic. They worked hard in the summer. They just have to do what they are capable of doing. If we do that, we are going to win games. We are a young team. We only have one senior. We start three sophomores and four juniors.”

After falling behind 17-10 in the first set, Toronto outscored Edison, 86-65, the rest of the way.

“They did control the match after that,” Edison (1-4) head coach Mycaela Ensell said. “They started to get the momentum, and they started to pump themselves. Once a team gets the momentum against us, it gets into our head big time. That has been our downfall.”

Maddie Anderson delivered nine kills and 10 blocks for Toronto. Madison Sapp produced 12 points and 14 assists. Jocelyn Merideth tallied nine points and nine assists. Kendal Thomas collected 11 points, Riley Kinsey recorded 20 assists and Jamie Anderson added nine blocks.

“They did what they usually do,” Ensell said. “It was the norm. Once we start to slump, it is hard for us to get out of it. We have been working on that this season.”

For Edison, Mikayla Petrisko collected eight points and three aces. Brianna Crawford delivered two kills. Kayla Wood and Faith Hoobler each tallied one kill.

“We played the summer out at the Indian Creek league, so we knew a little bit about them,” coach Thomas said. “We knew they did not have a dominant player who attacked the ball. Edison is also a young team.

“We tried to be strategic with where we placed the ball. When we pushed or tipped the ball, we were able to find holes. When we pushed the ball, we pushed it to the corners instead of down the middle. We did a good job of moving the ball around. We did a good job on defense. Our tip coverage was the best it has been all season.”

Toronto scored the first two points of the first set, but Edison rallied to take a 10-7 lead. The Red Knights came back to tie the score at 10 before the Wildcats ran off the next seven points.

The visitors fought back and scored seven of the next eight points to pull within a point. The hosts regrouped and built a 21-17 lead, but the Red Knights responded and pulled within 22-21 before the Wildcats scored the final three points to win the set.

“In the first set, we had some serving errors, and I think that helped to sway the set,” coach Thomas said. “I am proud of the girls. They finished. They picked each other up. They brought energy, and they kept that energy. They battled.”

The teams traded points early in the second set. Then, the Red Knights built a 12-8 lead before going on to the win set by four points and even the match at 1-1. After taking a four-point lead, Toronto led by as many as five points, while Edison got as close as two points.

The first part of the third set was close, but the Red Knights eventually were able to gain a little bit of breathing room, as Toronto took a five-point lead. Edison managed to hang around before the Red Knights pulled away late to win the set and to take a 2-1 lead.

The Red Knights took control of the fourth set early on as they built a nine-point lead. The Wildcats tried to scratch and claw their way back into the set, but the deficit was too much to overcome.

“We lost our communication,” coach Ensell said. “We played scared. We did not want to make any mistakes.”

Both teams are scheduled to play at 5:30 p.m. today at home. Toronto is slated to play Leetonia, while Edison is scheduled to play rival Indian Creek.