Mooney wins thriller

Cardinals top Howland in decisive set

Special to Tribune Chronicle / Dianna Oatridge Cardinal Mooney's Magen Petty (5) hits the ball over the net as Howland's Mia Pantalone (8) attempts a block. Mooney's Marissa Landers (6) watches the play. The Cardinals won 3-2.

HOWLAND — Howland High School hosted a five-set thriller between the Tigers and Cardinal Mooney on Wednesday evening.

Mooney emerged victorious after each team gave an effort to be proud of, according to their coaches.

“We have an exciting team. They play well together. They hustle. They never quit,” Mooney coach Tony Gorvet said. “Howland is always a tough opponent. They are very well coached.”

“Mooney came to play. They played great,” Howland coach Amanda Florek said. “We made some untimely errors. It was a good match.”

It took extra points to decide a highly contested first set. Neither team could build more than a three-point lead as the score reached 15-15. Mooney went up 24-21 before Howland tied it up. The score was 26-26 until spikes by Howland sophomores Chloe Schultz and Mia Pantalone ended set one, 28-26.

Mooney bounced back to take sets two and three 25-19 and 25-21.

Howland forced a fifth a decisive set with a 25-20 win in set four. The Tigers senior captain Danni Harigan continually laid her body on the line by diving on the floor to keep volleys alive.

Mooney proved to be too much in the end, led by junior C.J. Sapp, winning set five 15-9. Sapp had a team high 43 digs and six aces.

“I’m proud of my team,” Sapp said. “I just moved to Howland from Youngstown, so this was a special match for me. We had our ups and downs, but in the end we got the job done.”

Mooney’s Marissa Landers did a tremendous job of setting up her teammates Megan Petty and Katie Hough all night. Landers had 31 assists and 25 digs. Petty and Hough had 13 and 11 kills, respectively. Petty also had seven blocks.

Kathryn Summerfield led Howland with 33 assists. Maddy Golias had 12 digs, and Pantalone had 11 kills. Bailee Beasom was serving well with eight aces.

Mooney is now 2-0 after winning a five-setter over Brookfield on Monday. They play South Range today.

“We were 16-8 last year,” Gorvet said. “We’re a young team. We only have two seniors. The first week is tough.”

This was Howland’s first match of the season, and a match between two similar teams, both with bright futures.

“We finished 16-8 last season,” Florek said. “We only have two seniors playing because one is injured, so we’re young. We’re excited to have this group of girls. We have huge expectations this year. We’ve been working and building with this group of girls for several years now, and they’re all finally here at the varsity level.”

Sapp is looking forward to what’s ahead for her and Cardinals.

“Two games under our belts, and two big wins. I’m happy,” Sapp said. “We’re looking to improve every game. I’m seeing big things for our future.”