Each claiming great outside hitters and imposing defenses, it’s no surprise Amherst and Avon needed five games Tuesday for a winner to emerge.
And both had high stakes, entering play undefeated in the Southwestern Conference.
But it was Avon that walked away victorious.
Game one started with an Avon lead at 4-7. The Comets caught up at 9-9 before pulling ahead at 19-17. The Eagles tied it at 22 all with the game decided by a foot fault to give Amherst the first game 27-25.
Outside hitter Sarah Weigand scored a pair of kills. Tori Small, Alana Carrion, and Payton Jackson also had two kills each with Sarah Farley adding one. Amherst dominated the net with eight blocks — three for points by London Voss, Farley, and Small.
The Eagles had 16 kills split among Sydney Stone, Hallie Schroeder, Gillian Romanchok, Katie Sopko, and Katie Koziarz. Koziarz also made a two points by block.
The Eagles came out strong in game two and took an early 2-6 lead. They kept a three-point spread until the Comets evened the score at 22-22.
In spite of a combined 15 kills in the game by the Comets hitters Amherst fell 26-24 as Avon took the final two points on hits by Sopko and Stone. The Eagles hit for a total of 16 kills and three block points.
With one win each, the teams were in for a test of endurance. A number of extended volleys and near miraculous digs were marred by very few mental mistakes on either side.
Rolling into game three, the Eagles again jumped to a 2-6 lead. The Comets caught up at 8-8 and pulled into the lead 19-15. Avon closed the gap to two points but could not breach it.
Amherst took the game 25-22 on a kill by Tori Small. Amherst hit for 12 kills and an amazing five block points by Farley, Weigand, Jackson, and two by Carrion. The Eagles had 10 kills and an equally notable five block points, four by Romanchok.
Up 2-1, the Comets were in position to win the match.
However, the Eagles had other plans and were devastating at the net. Of the 16 kills for the Eagles, Sopko had seven. Romanchok had two kills and a pair of block points.
It was Sopko who scored the final two points for the Eagles in the 25-20 Avon win.
Amherst had 11 kills and a pair of aces but were overpowered by the Avon onslaught.
The final game was lopsided in more than just the 15-8 score. The Eagles offered seven kills, three by Schroeder, and a block point. Amherst had only two kills but three points on blocks out of five blocks at the net.
Photos by Carl Sullenberger | Amherst News-Times Outside hitter Sarah Weigand goes for a kill on Tuesday. She had 12 kills in the 3-2 Southwestern Conference loss to the Avon Eagles.