Hubbard flies past Field into district semifinals

BOARDMAN – Macey Sarisky wouldn’t be the first person you’d pick out of Hubbard’s volleyball lineup as its top kill producer.

The 5-foot-7 inch Eagles player has a slender build and doesn’t seem like she has the propensity to slam the ball at the unsuspecting opposition. But, her jumping ability and quick windup put any first-look doubts to rest.

“Every time we looked at her, watched her come down the hallway in school, you don’t know where that power comes from,” said Hubbard coach Jeremy Porter, whose team beat Field in Thursday’s Division II sectional final at Boardman High School, 3-1. “Somehow, she really can play. She can really hit the ball hard for kind of how she’s built. As an opposing coach, I wouldn’t expect her to hit the ball how she does. She finds a way – desire and heart. She puts a lot of speed on the ball and plays with a lot of heart.”

Sarisky had 16 kills to lead the Eagles to a 25-19, 22-25, 25-16, 25-10 victory. The fourth-seeded Eagles (17-7) face top-seeded Crestwood in a district semifinal, starting around 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday – back at Boardman. The Red Devils beat Poland in Thursday’s other sectional final, 3-0.

Thursday’s game against Field (8-15) wasn’t as easy as the other sectional final. In fact, Field took a 14-10 lead fact, Field took a 14-10 lead on a quick four-point run. It flustered Hubbard into calling a timeout.

Coming out of the break, the Eagles rallied and took a 21-16 advantage en route to a 25-19 first-game victory. Sarisky had four of her kills after the Falcons took the 14-10 lead.

“It comes from the heart,” she said of her kills. “I’ve been practicing forever. We wanted it so bad tonight. We had to put our heart in and give it our all.”

Hubbard took a 15-10 lead in the second game on a Sarisky kill, but Field chipped away at the Eagles’ advantage. Hubbard took a 21-20 lead, but the Falcons rumbled back and tied the match at one – 25-22.

Field’s Logan Kruse, who had 13 kills and three blocks, flustered Hubbard throughout the match.

“She’s a very athletic player,” Porter said. “That’s tough to read sometimes because you don’t know where they’re going with the ball. She’s very good at reading where our block is, our defense is. It’s simple to say, but she was putting the ball where we weren’t.”

Hubbard then dominated with Kiana Martinez having six of her 13 serving points in Game 3’s 25-16 victory.

In Game 4, Caitlin O’Hara’s misdirection sent the Falcons back to their nest after a 25-10 win. O’Hara, who didn’t have kills like a Major League pitcher hurling 90-mile-an-hour fastballs, eloquently placed a couple of her 14 kills to corners. KayLyn Garrett added 14 kills for Hubbard.

O’Hara’s moves baffled Field defenders similar to a knuckleball pitcher floating balls over home plate and batters swinging aimlessly.

“That I will thank my JV coach Evelyn Woods for,” said Porter of his assistant, who is a West Branch High School graduate. “She has worked with Caitlin O’Hara more than anyone on our team. She was a great middle hitter in volleyball and a state champion in basketball. She gives Caitlin that skill set of how to play with her head. Caitlin is a 4.0 student. You tell her one time, she does it. She’s just a great athlete and an intelligent kid. That makes for an easy kid to coach.”

Offensively, Hubbard did well, but defense is what carried the Eagles – a staple of the program since current athletic director Chuck Montgomery coached there.

“One of the biggest things I learned from him is defense wins,” Porter said. “You’re not always going to have the tallest girls out there. But if you teach people to play as hard as they can and any ball is possible to get, that really wins the game and that’s what really showed tonight.”

As for Sarisky’s prowess, she came out with one of her better games of the year. Her kills did all the talking for a 5-7 player ready to slam the ball on the opposition at the moment’s notice.

“It’s been a struggle for some of the season, but it really came together tonight,” she said.