CORTLAND - It's never a bad thing when a coach in any sport goes out of the way to compliment an opposing player.
When the player is a member of an arch rival, the comments carry more weight.
Bristol volleyball coach Scott Jones did just that after the Panthers lost to the Maplewood Rockets, 3-1, in a sectional final match of the Division IV district tournament Wednesday at Lakeview High School.
"When Brooke Dawson was in the front row, we couldn't stop her," Jones said. "We tried double-teaming her. We tried backing off, and she just totally dominated us. You have to give them credit."
The Rockets lost the first game, 17-25, but took care of business by winning the next three games, 25-17, 25-18 and 25-17. They will meet second-seeded Ledgemont, which advanced with a 3-1 win over the Mathews Mustangs in the second match last night.
Dawson's front-row dominance produced 24 kills and seven blocks. She welcomed Jones' comments.
"I've been playing against him for quite a while and it's always been a friendly competition," said Dawson, who will play softball next year at Slippery Rock University. "I'm glad he said that."
The Rockets (13-10) were able to win the critical second game. The match really seemed to hinge on a timeout called by Rockets coach Toni Kitzmiller with the Panthers holding a 15-9 lead in the third game. Maplewood seemed like a different team after the break, outscoring Bristol by a 16-3 margin the remainder of the game, including one run of eight points.
"Sometimes it's just breaking a server and getting the girls re-focused on passing," Kitzmiller said. "A lot of times serve-receive is an area we struggle in. Our timeouts are usually because we're struggling against a particular server."
The teams split two games against each other in the regular season. It's the second straight year in which Bristol (11-13) has been eliminated by Maplewood.
"Our girls did what we needed to do," Jones said. "We served well, which is an important thing for us. My seniors stepped up. I have to give it to Maplewood."
Setter Rebecca Shelton had 26 assists for the Rockets. Setter Ashly Lamosek had 22 for the Panthers.
The Mustangs faced a demanding task in dealing with middle hitter Jessica Fontana, a 6-0 senior who was a dominant force in front of the net. Fontana had 22 kills for the Redskins, who prevailed by scores of 25-13, 24-26, 25-21 and 34-32.
"I have five seniors and they're all leaders," Redskins coach Dave Jones said. "She doesn't hesitate to get into them a little bit and push them. She's a team leader. She's probably going to play somewhere in college."
The last game was tense until 17-5 Ledgemont, which trailed 32-31, scored the final three points to clinch the match. The Mustangs (10-14) exhibited great resolve to keep the match close.
"I'm extremely proud of them," Mustangs coach Carole O'Dell said. "They fought every point at the end there. Unfortunately, we ran out of substitutions. There were girls playing in spots they're normally not used to playing. They fought through everything."
Marissa O'Dell was a force up front for the Mustangs, finishing with 16 kills, four blocks and 16 assists. Lenna Hoff had 10 points, Maddie Williams recorded three service aces and Karli Romesburg had 10 points for Mathews.