Aug. 30—The Meadville girls volleyball team won its season opening match against Maplewood in four sets Tuesday evening at home (23-25, 25-11, 25-20, 25-20).
It was a non-region match, with two teams from different classifications (Maplewood Class 1A and Meadville Class 4A). But it gave both sides a solid test to start off their seasons.
"That's why we want to play those guys," said Meadville head coach Tim Schleicher. "They are a really good team that is going to force us to play better. They are going to expose us in areas where we are not doing well and maybe even in areas we think we are doing well in."
The defending state champion Maplewood Tigers came out strong with a 25-23 win in the first set. The Tigers came out to a 12-6 lead. Meadville pushed back, but was unable to close the gap entirely.
After they had a set to get their feet underneath them, the Bulldogs charged to a 17-8 lead in the second set before winning 25-11 to tie the series.
"I liked the resiliency," said Schleicher. "We came out a little flat and Maplewood was ready to play. But we worked our way through the momentum shifts in the game."
Passing and serving were two huge areas of the game which Maplewood struggled in during not just the second set, but for the rest of the match.
"Our goal coming in was to be competitive," said Maplewood head coach Sheila Bancroft. "I think we did that with the exception of set two. It comes down to serving and passing. We came out and we were serving dimes and passing good in the first set, but that went south in the second."
The final two sets would be as competitive as the first, with both ending in a 25-20 final in favor of Meadville. The same errors plagued Maplewood, and Meadville took advantage, winning the match in four sets.
"It's a great start to the season," said Schleicher. "I have the upmost respect for Sheila (Bancroft) and her program. I think that match was really good for both teams. There's a lot that we can take out of that match and a lot they can too, I'm sure."
Statistically, Emma Parks had 19 kills and 19 digs for the Bulldogs. Kendall Mealy had 27 digs and Sydney Holt 18. Elliott Schleicher had 19 assists as well as 3 aces. Elizabeth Hunter had 12 kills for Maplewood.
"Playing good teams like Meadville is only going to make you better in the end," said Bancroft. "They have a lot back and are very experienced. I thought we came in and battled and didn't let them walk all over us."
Meadville will play North East on Thursday at 7:15 p.m. at the House of Thrills. Maplewood will travel that same day to Eisenhower to play at 6 p.m.
Owen Krepps can be reached at 814-724-6370 or at email@example.com.