When two teams with similar records go head-to-head this late in the season, it’s bound to be a battle. If their first contest took five games to settle, the second meeting is certain to be exciting.
Thursday’s Avon-Amherst match was a swinging pendulum of emotion for fans on both sides.
The Eagles came out strong in set one with a sustained attack at the net.
Led by Katie Sopko’s four kills, Avon put the Comets defense off balance. Eagles Sarah Sprecher, Gillian Romanchok, and Sydney Stone added six more kills combined.
Eagle Hallie Schroeder found gaps in Amherst’s serve-receive as she chalked up three aces and a kill. At the net, her teammates Sprecher, Becca Olach, and Romanchok held Amherst to just seven kills while scoring a point on block each.
Amherst’s defense owed much to Tory Small whose two block points, and one by Sarah Farley, prevented the Eagles from widening the point gap. Ashley Makruski had three kills and Small and Sarah Wiegand had two each in the 25-20 loss.
Set two started a little slowly for the Comets until they evened the score at 4-4.
Makruski went into overdrive, smashing six kills and an ace into the Eagles defense. Small and Wiegand both hit for two kills. London Voss added a block point while Erika Eishen served up a pair of aces.
The Comets defense held the Eagles to just six kills and a couple of aces, winning game two 25-11.
Set three went to Avon hands down. At the net, Eagle Olach was dominant with four block points, which inspired Schroeder, Sprecher, and Stone to chip in points on block.
Hitting for 11 kills was spread among the regulars with Erin Gardner getting in on the action.
Makruski’s four kills and block point, combined with a kill by Wiegand and point on block by Small, kept the game from being a rout as the Eagles won 25-20.
Neither team displayed signs of weakening. Set four was a slug-fest from beginning to end.
The Comets’ 12 kills, four by Small and three by Makruski, were balanced by the Eagles’ 13 — four by Schroeder and three from Olach and Sopko. Amherst had one block point and Avon two. The Comets served up four aces, two by Brianne McHugh and one each from Wiegand and Madison Cruzado. The Eagles had three aces.
The difference in the 25-23 Comets win was four serving faults for Avon against two for Amherst.
In a repeat of their earlier match, Amherst and Avon were tied at two games. The road to 15 became apparent quickly as the Eagles hit for six kills to just three for Amherst.
Decisive once again was Olach, who made two more points on block. The Comets were unable to rally and fell to Avon 15-5.
The statistics are impressive: Makruski had 18 kills, Small nine, Wiegand six, Alana Carrion two. Madison Cruzado and McHugh were on top of their game, making crucial digs and passes all evening.
Both Cruzado and Makruski were lauded before the match for setting records, Cruzado for breaking the 1,500 mark in career digs and Makruski for registering more than 1,000 career kills.
Photos by Carl Sullenberger | Amherst News-Times Junior Madison Cruzado makes a dig on Thursday in the 3-2 loss to the Avon Eagles. Cruzado was recognized before the match with passing the 1,500 mark in career digs.