IRONTON — The Minford Falcons came up just short against the Ironton Fighting Tigers as the Falcon volleyball team lost a Division III Sectional Semifinal match in five sets.
Minford (14-8, 7-7) was led offensively by Mary Pica, Ashley Blankenship and Abby Grasso as all three players recorded five kills. Zoey Doll finished with seven assists and four aces while Grasso also recorded four aces. Olympia Sannuchi led the Falcon defense with four blocks.
The Falcons began the game by winning the first set 25-16 after using a 10-1 run to claim the set. However, the momentum didn’t last for Minford who trailed quickly 8-1 in set two before eventually losing 25-17.
“We came out in the second game and was down 8-1,” Falcons coach Rachael Coriell said. “We’ve always struggled with the serve-receive. They’ve got some really good servers and we got stuck in that rotation and couldn’t get out.”
After another slow start in set three that saw Minford trailing 16-7, the Falcons eventually lost 25-18. Set four appeared to be heading in the same direction with Minford trailing 14-9 early. However, the Falcons used a 14-7 run to with the set 25-21, forcing a fifth and final set.
While the fifth set went back and fourth, the Falcons weren’t able to gain the advantage, losing the set 15-13 and the match.
“We have a hard time staying focused and playing our game,” Coriell said. “It was kind of a different ball game than the first time we played them in the first game of the season.”
“They’re a good team. They’re deep. We never could really get going to keep our consistency going. We had a few players that weren’t feeling well, which is not an excuse, but it is what it is. We just came up short on the end of this one.”
Minford loses Abby Grasso, Mary Picca, Lakin Smith and Ariel Kingery to graduation.
“This is my third year with them, they’ve basically started all three years,” Coriell said. “There will be some big shoes to fill. I think Abby is going on to play college volleyball hopefully. It’s a good group of girls. There are going to be a lot of spots to fill next year. It seems strange that this was their last game and we couldn’t come away with a win for them in the sectional here.
“I think we want two games the first year I had them. We won maybe nine games last year. And we’re at 14 wins now.”
Ironton def. Minford 16-25, 25-17, 25-18, 21-25, 15-13