MEDINA – Medina’s volleyball team is a work in progress. Strongsville’s volleyball team is a work of art.
The state’s sixth-ranked Division I team showed its balance Tuesday night, as Strongsville remained undefeated with a 25-17, 25-20, 25-16 sweep in Greater Cleveland Conference action.
Still, the Bees (5-6, 2-3), who start a junior and two sophomores, showed signs of their continued improvement this year.
“We’ve gotten better working with one another, not having to do anything by yourself,” junior libero Avery Kasian said. “We’ve worked on our serve receive and serving more efficiently.”
After spotting the Mustangs (9-0, 5-0) a 10-3 lead in the first set, Medina played even the rest of the way. The Bees used a 6-0 service run by senior Hailie Hotchkiss to take a 16-13 lead in the second set before Strongsville rallied. Medina led midway through the final set at 11-10.
Kasian said playing against a top team like Strongsville makes Medina players rely on each other all the more.
“You learn that there’s always people there to back you up,” she said. “You learn some of your weaknesses, too, and what you need to work on to be better.
“We need to work on our defense, but I do think we’ve gotten better as the season goes along.”
Medina coach Joe Ortenzi said keeping the offense in system is the key area the Bees need to improve.
“We need to work on our tempo,” Ortenzi said. “When we get the passes on our setter’s hands, our hitters are dominant. When we’re out of system, we not as effective, so we have to keep that tempo up.”
When the Bees were in system, setter Ashley Dwyer (22 assists) found her options at the net, led by senior Stephanie Flamik, who had a team-high nine kills and added a pair of aces. Senior Chloe Butts added five kills for Medina while sophomores Sarah Smith and Desiree Schafer each had three.
Defensively, Medina made Strongsville junior standout Samantha Csire work for all 11 of her kills, but setter Kimberly Claridge (30 assists) showed the versatility the Mustangs have. Six players had at least four kills.
“I was extremely impressed with our defense,” Ortenzi said. “We were anticipating more and not reacting, and we forced Strongsville to make their own mistakes at times. You can only do so much to Sam Csire, but I thought we did a pretty good job of neutralizing the rest of their team.”
Medina won the junior varsity and freshman matches in three sets. The JV team powered to a 25-23, 20-25, 25-22 triumph after racing to a 16-8 lead in the third set and holding on for the win. The freshman team won the first set 25-22 and closed out the match with a 25-20 win in the third.