End of the road

SOLON – It’s easy to get confused when wading through the litany of statistics involved with a volleyball game.

Sometimes all that’s needed in a post-game analysis is a simple eye test.

The Tuscarawas Central Catholic Saints defeated the Windham Bombers in three sets of a Division IV regional semifinal Thursday because of talent. Not that the Bombers aren’t talented, but it was obvious that the Saints had a little more skill.

“The bottom line was that they were better than us,” Bombers coach Michael Chaffee said. “I thought our kids showed great heart. We were competitive the second game and we were competitive at times in the third game when we could run some offense.

“When you haven’t played against people significantly bigger than you across the board all year, it creates things that we haven’t seen. We have great bench kids, but they can’t simulate being 5-11 and blocking us.”

The Saints (21-6) prevailed by scores of 25-13, 25-21 and 25-17. In what proved to be an indication of what was to follow, the Saints opened the first set with four straight points, including the first two when the Bombers weren’t able to return serve.

“They wouldn’t be human if they weren’t a little nervous,” Chaffee said. “I thought we warmed up very well. We talked about regionals being kind of like the trench-warfare mentality of one point, two points, one point, two points, and we came out and gave up eight of the first nine. So much for that theory.”

The Saints were more dominant at the net, led by 5-11 Lauren Fredericks with six blocks and five kills and 6-1 Emily Anderson with seven kills and four blocks. Jenna Tolloti paced a talented group of servers with 15 points, including seven service aces.

The Bombers (23-3) struggled with some of the jump serves by the Saints.

“Coming in the biggest fear I had was their serving,” Chaffee said. “They have two kids that hit the jump-top serve, and it’s hard to simulate unless you have three or four kids that can do it.”

The Bombers had a fast start to the second set, opening leads of 9-4 and 11-7. The Saints then scored five straight points and 12 of the next 14 to pull away. Tuscarawas won the third set easily after assuming a 12-5 lead.

Chaffee had the difficult task of thanking players in an emotional locker room. While it was hard to accept defeat, the Bombers realize that with standouts Dari Heller and Jessica Isler leading a strong group of returning players, chances are good that another district title could be in the works.

“We have a lot of weapons coming back,” Chaffee said. “It’s always hard to predict the year out. We felt we were close last year, and we felt if we played well through the course of the year that we would get here this year.

“I would say right now we’re favored to come back, but that’s a long way away.”

Brittany Knight had four points and four service aces for the Bombers. Isler had 15 assists, and Heller led in digs with eight.