When Stow-Munroe Falls volleyball hosted Nordonia Sept. 1 at the James G. Tyree Gymnasium, both teams played their second five-set match in a three-day period.
In fact, all four of Stow's matches this season have gone to five sets. That's a habit Bulldogs coach Miguel Ramirez wants to break — even if Stow has proven adept at winning marathon matches.
Following its 25-20, 23-25, 15-25, 25-19, 15-13 loss to Wadsworth Aug. 30 at home, Stow held off a late rally by Nordonia to win 25-14, 23-25, 25-10, 21-25, 15-13 Sept. 1.
Stow improved to 3-1, 2-1 in the Suburban League National Conference, while Nordonia dropped to 2-3, 1-1 in the National Conference.
Stow seemed to be in control of the match early, as hitters Julia DiPaola and Lizzy Stefanov led the charge. After Nordonia trimmed the lead to 15-13 in the first set, DiPaola scored eight straight service points to put the set out of reach.
Stefanov ended the first set with a kill off a Nordonia block. She had five of her 14 kills in the first set and led the team with six solo blocks.
However, Nordonia came out firing in the second set, thanks to its primary weapon: Sophomore outside hitter Megan Alders. Alders put down six kills in the second set alone, helping the Knights to maintain the lead after the set was tied 6-6.
A Stow hitting error gave Nordonia the second set.
Alders was all over the court for the Knights, finishing with 20 kills, 26 digs and nine service points.
In set three, however, Nordonia's passing felt apart. Stow took advatage, as middle hitter Maria Cistone registered several blocks to stop any Knights momentum.
Stow took an early 9-4 lead in the third set and never looked back. Cistone ended the set with a well-placed tip kill.
Nordonia coach Andrea Ciavarelli chalked her team's inconsistent play up to it youth, as the Knights' starting lineup contains only one senior and two freshman.
Still, the Knights showed plenty of fight in set four. Down 16-10 at one point, Nordonia scored 10 of the next 12 points to flip the set. Alders hit a kill off the block to win set four and tie the match at 2-2.
Ramirez lamented the fact that his team still is learning how to close out opponents, as he noted his team also gave up set four in the Wadsworth match.
Set five was a microcosm of the match: Stow took the early lead, but Nordonia fought hard to erase it.
Stow got to match point at 14-11, but the Knights fended off two match points. Finally, a four hits call on the Knights gave Stow the contest.
DiPaola led the Bulldogs with 20 kills, while libero Alyssa Tallarico had 25 digs. Setters Jacy Guider and Lauren Fair shared the load evening in Stow's split 5-1 system, as Guider had 19 assists and Fair had 20.
Nordonia setter Faith Banks had 42 assists and 20 digs, while libero Alexis Perney had 30 digs. Freshman outside hitter Maddie Knight had 10 kills.