The Ashland Eagle volleyball team won its fifth straight contest, defeating the Findlay Oilers 3-1 on Friday (Sept. 14) night in its GLIAC season opener.
Four Eagles soared to the double-digit mark in kills, due in large part to the strong offensive effort by Crystal Elliott (Canal Winchester, Ohio / Canal Winchester). The senior recorded a season-high 51 assists making eight games the setter has posted 50 or more assists in her career.
The first set was close as both teams battled for an edge. Neither team had more than a three-point lead throughout the set. Tied at 20-20, Findlay picked up two quick points and went up, 22-20. Megan Rohlfs (Loveland, Ohio / Mount Notre Dame ) set up Brittany Snider (Olmsted Falls, Ohio / Olmsted Falls) for the kill to bring the score within one. Findlay's Danielle Taflinger took advantage of the set from Amanda Calhoun and it was 23-21 in favor of the Oilers. As the scoreboard showed 23-23 after the finish from Kate Eckels (Loveland, Ohio / Mount Notre Dame), Elliott and Baley Bernthisel (Grand Rapids, Ohio / Otsego) were ready to strike again and it was match point for the Eagles. A bad set by Findlay finished the set 25-23 Ashland.
The second set started a bit differently for the Eagles as Findlay took a 10-5 lead. Ashland refused to throw in the towel, winning five of the next six points, and trailed only 12-10. The Eagles continued to fight back and eventually brought the score to a 20-20 tie. Marci Zegarac (Lansing, Ill. / South) set up Bernthisel and it was a 24-23 Eagle lead. Another bad set came in the way from a Findlay rally and the Eagles went up two sets to none.
After rallying through most of the third set Ashland had tied the contest at 23-23 and looked to close out the night. The Eagles tried to take advantage of an attack error at the 25-25 mark, but after two Findlay kills the Oilers slipped past AU for a 27-25 win.
As Ashland went up 20-15 in the fourth set the Oilers tried to make a move to keep the match alive. Calhoun set up both Taflinger and Mackenzie Vorst, who each added a point to the board for Findlay. That would be all the Oilers had the chance to score as the Eagles needed only two more points to end the set. With her 51 assist, Elliott passed Snider the ball to bring the set to match point. Findlay ended the set with an error by Vorst and the Eagles improved to 8-1 on the season.
Snider continued to lead the offense in kills, winning 19 points. Bernthisel and Eckels added 12 kills while Maureen Johnson (Crystal Lake, Ill. / Crystal Lake South) added 11. Elliott posted a season high 51 assists. Zegarac led the defensive effort with a match-high 25 digs, Eckels added 14, Snider tallied 13. Ashland hit .201 percent on the evening. The Eagles recorded 64 kills on 164 total attacks.
The Eagles face the Wayne State Warriors tomorrow afternoon at 4 p.m. for the second game in their GLIAC road trip.