Magnolia Tops Park, St.C. in Tri

Photo by Kyle Lutz Magnolia’s Kayna Anderson attempts a serve during a match Thursday at Wheeling Park High School.

WHEELING — The Magnolia volleyball team got off to a great start to the season, securing victories against St. Clairsville and Wheeling Park in a tri-match Thursday at Wheeling Park High School.

Magnolia secured its first victory of the season defeating host Wheeling Park in straight sets, 25-18, 25-21, followed by another impressive performance against the Red Devils, 25-13, 25-14.

“I thought we played very well as a team,” Magnolia coach Pam Chapman said. “We worked really hard this summer and the beginning of the season on playing together, not getting down with a couple of points on us and just working through a lot of things. I was very, very pleased.”

An important factor in both matches for the Blue Eagles was how they started their first set. Against the Patriots, they settled for the first six points and never let the lead below three. In Set 1 against St. Clairsville, the Blue Eagles came out soaring securing the first eight points and never was threatened.

“That’s the other thing we talk about,” Chapman said. “We’re always talking as a team and we’re always working on that in the gym in practice about you come out and win that first set. Now you have to come out and do the exact same thing in the second set. I think we’re really working hard on that and (Thursday), it showed they’re making some progress on that.”

The victories did not come without some adversity, though. In the second set against the Red Devils, the Blue Eagles saw themselves in a 3-0 hole. However, Magnolia calmed down and reeled off 14 of the of the next 16 points to take a nine-point lead, 14-5.

Mady Winters totaled 11 kills, four aces and four blocks. Leneica Grimm compiled 10 kills and 16 assists while Kyndra Pilant had 16 kills and six blocks.

“It’s a little confidence booster for us,” Chapman said. “We knew coming that St. Clairsville and Park are both quality teams and they play a very quick style of play kind of like we do. They’re good at blocking, they’re passing is good. We knew coming in that we had to play hard and had to play our game. These two wins were a very big confidence booster for us.”

Wheeling Park and St. Clairsville competed in the final match of the night — the only one that went to three sets. In the end, the Patriots came away with a victory, 25-20, 24-26, 25-17.

During the second set, the Patriots saw themselves down 19-13 before Coach Kristen Gaudino called a timeout. The pep talk seemed to work as Wheeling Park rallied back to tie the score a 21-21. The Patriots scored the next two points to take a lead. However, the Red Devils formed a little rally of their own and scored five of the next six points to take the set and tie the match at 1-1.

The Patriots made sure that did not happen again in the third set.

After falling behind 4-1, they reeled off six straight points that gave them the lead they didn’t relinquish.

“They were smart with the ball that the third set,” Gaudino said. “They made the decisions they needed to make. They knew when to hit the ball, they knew when tip the ball. They saw the entire court. Their serves, it was just cleaner play.”

On the night, Corrine Lloyd secured 17 sets while Leah Gaudino had eight digs. Rachel Simon compiled six kills, five blocks and three aces for the Patriots, who only have one senior on their roster.

“Last year we had five freshmen on varsity,” Kristen Gaudino said. “We had a bad season. It was rough. It was a very trying season. I told the girls (last season) we were going to put the time in, we’re going to work, you belong here and we’re going to get better and better. It’s going to pay off next year. (Thursday) proved that it paid off.”

For St. Clairsville, Alexa Binger had 11 kills, three aces and four blocks while Klinkoski had 13 kills.

“This was our third playing night, so we had two really tough that we had won on Monday and Tuesday,” Red Devils coach Christa Truchan said. “So I was a little worried about keeping that intensity up. We tried to talk about that, tried to prepare for that a little bit, but we just came in here real flat. Magnolia had momentum and we couldn’t gain an edge on it.

“Wheeling Park, we just had too many errors. You can’t overcome a game like that. Credit to both teams, they’re very disciplined, but our errors beat us.”

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