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Eagles dominate way back to regional final

By JOSH MORGRET • Oct 31, 2019 at 8:14 PM

UNIONTOWN — There is good serving, and then there is what Braylee Wise did on Thursday.

The Monroeville junior served up the first 13 points in Game 2 when her team needed a run the most.

The No. 4-ranked Eagles battled through a tight first game, then rolled to a 25-20, 25-7, 25-14 victory over New Middletown Springfield in a Division IV regional semifinal at Uniontown Lake High School.

"Braylee got us off to a great start with her serve," Monroeville coach Kendra Snook said. "Everyone else followed. That was huge with the momentum to be able to push out to the big lead."

Monroeville improved to 25-1 and will play for a regional championship for the second straight season. The Eagles will face No. 12 Dalton (24-2), which topped Newton Falls in the second match of the night in three games.

"It felt good," said Wise of the Game 2 run. "The run at the beginning of the game helps the team out. I just wanted to get the ball in play. Springfield had issues passing the ball."

Monroeville setter Camryn Hedrick finished with 38 assists — giving her 2,016 for her career in what is two full seasons of varsity action.

"It would not be possible without all my hitters," Hedrick said. "I am very fortunate to have tons of hitters. When I set a ball, I am confident in every one of our hitters."

Wise opened Game 2 with serve. A block by Camryn Hedrick and two kills by Kelsie Palmer helped Monroeville to a 4-0 lead. Wise then connected on four consecutive aces — only interrupted halfway through by a timeout by Springfield coach Angela Jones — for a 8-0 lead.

The Tigers (22-5) made two errors and were whistled for a net violation to make it 11-0. After another timeout, Lydia Landoll smacked a kill and another error by Springfield boosted the lead to 13-0. A kill by Lyndsey Smith finally got the Tigers on the board.

"Braylee has played club volleyball at a high level for a long time," Snook said. "We have noticed in these big matches that she has been playing pretty well with no nerves. That helps a lot."

The Eagles did not relent in the pressure in Game 2. Palmer blasted four kills during a run of six straight points for Monroeville for a 19-2 lead. Kylee Brooks put down a kill and Graisyn Yoder followed suit for a 22-7 advantage. Two more errors were followed by a kill from Maura Brown to give the Eagles the commanding lead.

"In the first game, I thought we played really tight," Snook said. "I don't know if it was nerves or what it was. In between games, I told the kids to go out and have fun. I told them to play hard and that we were still playing volleyball and that is a fun thing."

Monroeville slugged through a tough opening game. The Tigers took a two-point lead early as the teams exchanged points. The Eagles were the first to really surge ahead as a run of five straight points - including kills by Yoder, Brooks, and Palmer - to open a 13-9 lead.

"All week we worked hard in practice in facing adversity," Snook said. "We struggle every day in practice so when they get out on the court in game time, it is nothing new."

The margin reached seven points at 18-11 after a hitting error by the Tigers, but Springfield did not fade away. A string of four straight points cut the lead to three points, but that was the closest the Tigers could get.

Monroeville took advantage of four serving errors by Springfield down the stretch — including three in a row - to close out the game. A double-hit error on the Tigers gave Monroeville the early lead.

"We knew Springfield had a couple of big hitters," Snook said. "In the first couple of games, I don't think we were doing a good job following our game plan."

Despite blowing past Springfield in Game 2, the Tigers put up a fight early in Game 3. Monroeville opened a 5-2 lead after two kills by Brooks and another by Palmer. But, Springfield fought back and the game was 9-9 after an error by Monroeville.

But, as all good teams do, the Eagles strung points together to bury an opponent. Palmer added two kills as Monroeville ran off nine points in a row. Even after a kill by Lauren Ranelli for the Tigers, kills from Palmer and Reece Kluding made the lead 21-10.

Palmer added her 18th and final kill while Brooks swatted her 11th as Monroeville finished off its 21st win of the season in which it did not drop a game.

"We have been very fortunate to have a lot of good setters before Camryn," Snook said. "She has been around volleyball and played at a high level."

Wise connected on 20 of 20 serves while Landoll was 17 of 17. Yoder tallied 10 digs and six kills with Adrian Barman nabbing 23 digs.

"We are very deep offensively, but we also have a lot of depth defensively," Snook said. "Braylee adds to that depth defensively. She made a couple nice, huge defebsive plays besides serving great."

The Eagles will face a Dalton team that they defeated in last year's regional semifinals, 25-17, 23-25, 25-23, 25-16.

"They shared their conference title just like us," Snook said. "They have their stud (Kelsey Shoup) back along with quite a few hitters. I expect it to be a great match."

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