Big Red earns sweep, gets a third try against East Liverpool
STEUBENVILLE — The Big Red volleyball team has been working on its ability to finish all season. Given the opportunity to do so in Monday’s sectional contest against Carrollton, it did just that, using a big third set decision to close out a 25-21, 25-17, 25-14 sweep inside the Crimson Center to advance in the Division II, East 1 District bracket.
“That’s one thing I think we’ve done a lot better this year is actually finish,” Big Red head coach Kristin Taylor said. “We have learned how to finish, whether it’s in the third set or the fifth set. We struggled a few times, but overall we have improved on finishing games. That has been our theme the whole year — just keep going.
“We’re slow to start sometimes, but once we get going, we keep our foot on the gas.”
No. 7 seed Steubenville (13-9) opened up a 20-12 lead in the opening set, but saw the lead shrink to 24-21 as No. 14 seed Carrollton (7-16) fought back, forcing Taylor to use a timeout. Following the discussion, Big Red closed out the set for a 1-0 lead.
In the second set, Carrollton jumped out to a 4-0 lead, before Big Red scored the next nine-straight points to take over, and did not look back, maintaining at least a four-point lead en route to a 25-17 win, sealed by a late run.
In the third set, Big Red again went on a big, early run, using a 7-0 run to take control at 7-2, and again carried the momentum all the way to victory. Carrollton tried to mount a late push, scoring a couple of points to extend the match, but it was too little, too late as Steubenville was able to put it away, 25-14.
“Once we got started, I felt our passes were a lot better,” Taylor said. “We were attacking the ball. You’re not going to be successful if you don’t put the ball in play. Our hits were in and we were being aggressive instead of trying to play it safe. Especially now, in this part of the tournament, you have got to be aggressive.”
For Carrollton, a young group outside its three seniors, the problems were self-inflicted, according to their head coach.
“We just beat ourselves,” Carrollton coach Amanda Tressa said. “We had error after error. It’s hard to get a rally going when you do that. It’s very tough, but it something we have battled all year. Sometimes we bounce back from it, sometimes we don’t.
“It just wasn’t our night. The majority of them are underclassmen. We’ll learn from it and come back next year.”
For Big Red, Maggi Cucarese had 15 points, two aces, two kills and six blocks. Anna Taylor recorded eight points, seven kills, two aces, one block, two assists and 21 digs. Emily Allen had eight points, two aces, a kill, 23 assists and five digs. MaKayla Abram had three points, two aces, seven kills, seven blocks and an assist.
Carrollton got six kills and nine digs from Cailyn Bright, 12 kills and two digs from Jayle Solomon and three kills and five digs from Malina Moore.
Big Red advances to face No. 4 seed East Liverpool on Thursday at East Liverpool. The Potters defeated Big Red twice during the regular season.
“It’s one game at a time,” coach Taylor said. “We play East Liverpool and they have beat us twice already this year. The saying goes, ‘it’s hard to beat a team three times.’ We hope that phrase is true. We’re going to prepare like it is game one.”
(Grimm can be reached at email@example.com)