Toronto keeps Weir High searching for first victory

GOING UP — Toronto’s Maddie Anderson attempts to block a shot from Weir High’s Sophia Mikula on Wednesday. Also shown are Toronto’s Madison Sapp, left, and Riley Kinsey. (Photo by Joe Catullo)

TORONTO — The Toronto volleyball team likes playing local teams.

While being a member of the Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference, the Red Knights do play some local matches, and Toronto faced off with Weir High on Wednesday inside the George J. Gunzler Memorial Gymnasium.

The Red Riders won the first set, but the Red Knights rallied to win the next three, en route to a 21-25, 25-11, 25-22, 25-17 victory.

“We had a horrible first set,” Toronto (3-9) head coach Cathie Thomas said. “We were really tight. We had eight or nine attack errors. That was the difference. We had good passes, but we did not square up to the net to attack.

“We showed growth tonight. At times, the sets were close and the ball would go over to them, but we battled and we were able to pull away.”

Weir (0-12) head coach Carrie Magnone declined to comment.

Out of Toronto’s three victories, it has defeated Weir, Edison and Leetonia.

Maddie Anderson tallied 17 points, 10 aces and 13 blocks. Jamie Anderson delivered 14 blocks and three kills. Kendal Thomas scored 10 points and collected four aces. Jocelyn Merideth contributed eight points and two aces, Riley Kinsey recorded 20 digs and Liza Smith ended up with eight blocks.

“Our blocking game was on point tonight,” coach Thomas said.

For Weir, Gia Fuscardo finished with four aces, five sets, four kills, three blocks and four digs. Sophia Miklua collected one ace, three sets, three kills, 11 blocks and five digs. Morgan Grant recorded one ace, 72 sets, 11 digs and one kill. Kiara Magnone contributed one ace, two kills and six digs. Kaleigh Cowden delivered one ace, three kills and six digs. Chesney Tice tallied three sets and one dig.

“This was the best all-around game we have played this season,” coach Thomas said. “We passed really well. We had really good tip coverage. We tried something different. We adjusted our setter. I am proud of the girls.

“We did not practice it. The girls did it over the summer. We talked about it, we showed them, they watched the JVs and they did it. We showed a lot of growth. They played that way, and we didn’t practice it.”

The first set was close early, but Weir began to take control about midway through it. The Red Riders took a 14-9 lead before the Red Knights battled back and pulled within 14-12. Weir regrouped and increased its advantage to 20-12 on its way to winning the first set by four and take a 1-0 lead in the match.

The second set belonged to Toronto.

The Red Knights built a 10-2 lead, and they later extended the lead to 19-5. The Red Riders tried to rally, but Toronto won the set by 14 points and tied the match at 1-1.

The Red Knights got off to another strong start in the third set. Toronto took an 11-4 lead, forcing Weir to call timeout. The Red Knights extended their advantage to 20-9, but the Red Riders were able to scratch and claw their way back into the set as Weir pulled within 24-22 before Toronto scored the next point to win the set by three and took a 2-1 lead.

“We made it interesting,” coach Thomas said. “I don’t know how many times earlier in the season where we would be up by eight or nine points in a set only to see the other team come back and win it. We showed a lot of improvement tonight.

“We made a lot of attack errors in the first set, but we kept battling. We became more strategic of where we placed the ball.”

Toronto had its third-straight strong start to start in the fourth set. The Red Knights took a 15-9 lead, and the Red Riders called timeout trailing 18-13. The victors pushed their lead out to 22-15 before winning the set by eight and winning the match, 3-1.

Both teams are scheduled to play today. Weir is scheduled to play at home against Indian Creek, while Toronto is slated to play at East Palestine in an EOAC matchup.

“I really like playing local teams,” coach Thomas said. “I really like it. The volleyball season is so compacted. You average three games a week, and one week we played four. It is tiring traveling to play teams up in the EOAC. It is hard to correct things. You have less practice time.

“Before all of our away games, we come together as a team. We eat together as a team, and we make sure they get their homework done. We come in and serve at lunch time. It is hard to work on things. We don’t have a lot of practice time during the season.”