St Edward outlasts LarkinSt. Edward's Katie Swanson fires a kill past Larkin's Jill Casebeer (9) and Lexi Smithberg on Thursday at Larkin. | Karen Naess ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 22, 2011 10:10PM
What at first looked like an easy win for St. Edward at Larkin on Thursday night turned into a long struggle.
Eventually the Green Wave was able to pull out a 25-10, 24-26, 25-18 victory, but the host Royals made them work for every last bit of it. After cruising to a win in game one, the Wave self-destructed with 12 unforced errors in the second game. And then fell behind 8-3 in the third game before finally recovering just in time to rally for the win.
“We just lost our focus in that second game,” said St. Edward coach Jaime Dovichi. “I think we probably got a little over confident after the first game. Our defense started to let us down and that caused our offense to break down. We weren’t able to finish plays.”
The Green Wave’s comeback in game three started with a block kill from Rena Ranallo, who followed it up with three straight service points including an ace to cut the Larkin lead to 8-7. The Green Wave eventually pulled even 11-11 and then ahead 12-11 on back-to-back aces from Callie Johnson. The Wave never trailed again. Katie Swanson had a pair of kills down the stretch to help the Green Wave pull away.
“I think it was just a matter of getting our confidence back,” said Dovichi. “We lost it for a stretch, but we knew we could do it.”
Sarah Norman had a huge night for St. Edward with a match-high 15 kills. She had seven in the first game to help get St. Edward off to a fast start. Swanson added nine kills and nine digs. Ranallo had five kills and six digs. Katie Ayello dished out 17 assists and contributed eight digs.
“Our outside hitters Swanson and Norman are really starting to play well,” said Dovichi. “They are hitting different locations on the floor. And Callie in the middle is getting more aggressive.”
The win snapped a two-game losing streak for St. Edward and ended a five-game stretch of road games. The Green Wave finished its stint away from home 3-2 and is now 12-6 on the season.
Larkin showed remarkable resiliency after faltering in game one. The Royals trailed by a narrow margin through most of game two and were down 23-19 late. However, three errors by St. Edward errors and a kill by Brianna Stewart even the score at 23-23. Another Green Wave error gave the Royals a 25-24 lead and then Olivia Kofie finished the comeback with a kill to force a third game.
Stewart and Kofie help give the Royals an early lead in game three with a pair of kills each. But the Royals eventually returned to their mistake-prone ways of the first game. At one point Larkin committed unforced errors on five straight plays to give the momentum back to St. Edward.
The Royals continued to struggle down the stretch, ending the game with three straight missed kills.
“It was all about communication,” said Larkin coach Marcin Dybka. “When we started to communicate more we started to play better. But once we made a few mistakes we stopped communicating again and that’s when we lost it. I know these girls have the skills for what it takes to be good. But now we need to start playing smarter and not make the mental mistakes.”
Stewart led the Royals with 11 kills and 15 digs. Kofie had six kills and three blocks.