BELLAIRE The Green House was rocking as the Irish student section cheered on their volleyball team to a victory. As fans of other sports are well aware, these rabble-rousers have the ability to affect the outcome of the game. Both coaches agreed that indeed was the case on Thursday evening as St. John Central won revenge for an earlier loss over visiting Bridgeport in 4 sets, 25-20, 21-25, 25-22 and 25-8.
"It was an awesome game, I am very proud of this team," an ecstatic Megan Gesualdo credited the fans for keeping the team spirits high.
"We love our cheering section. They motivate the girls and keep us going."
ST. JOHN Central’s Kristen Russell (2) battles Bridgeport’s Emily Nowakowski at the net during Thursday’s high school volleyball match. The Irish prevailed in four sets. Additional images can be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
"I think they got a little out of control," Bulldogs' head coach David Williamson offered a different assessment of the student section, "But regardless, our girls let the crowd get to them. They have to learn to block it out."
The Irish would battle back from a deficit to take the first set but the Lady Bulldogs would get their game back in synch in the second frame and survive a back-and forth battle to even the count at one apiece.
St. John Central came out and ran up an early lead in the third set leaving Bridgeport in an 8-1 hole. The Bulldogs would trail by 8, 21-13 before rallying back to give the Irish a scare.
"It was uncharacteristic of the way we play, we did not make the easy plays," Williamson explained. "It was a combination of both physical and mental mistakes for us tonight - getting the little things right leads to success but we were not doing the little things tonight."
The Bulldogs put up little fight in the fourth set as the Irish won handily to improve to 8-4. "These girls have been playing with a lot of heart," Gesualdo remarked. "We have a winning streak because they won't quit, they keep playing and they know how to come back."
Jessica Alvey led the Irish at the net with 17 kills, one block, 2 assists, 4 digs and 8 points. Caitlin Sliva notched 16 deadly spikes, Lindsee Perry added 8 kills, 4 digs and 13 points.
Kaydie Coppa set for 20 assists, served up 16 points with 2 aces with 5 kills and 5 digs. Kristen Russell also had 20 assists, 4 kills, 1 dig and 13 points for St. John Central.
Bridgeport was paced at the mesh divider by Brianna Massey with 10 kills and 3 blocks. Emily Nowakowski set 21 assists with 3 digs and one kill. Jalynn Conaway and Maclaine Murad had identical performances, notching 5 kills, 2 digs and one block.
Kaitlyn Benda added 4 digs and 3 kills while Hannah Lewis dug up 17 for the Bulldogs as they drop to 6-3.
St. John will host Wheeling Central on Tuesday while the Bulldogs will travel to Barnesville.
Palmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org