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Fitch coach gets her first win over Boardman

AUSTINTOWN — Coming into this matchup with the Boardman Spartans, Austintown Fitch coach Jody Bartlett didn’t feel her team held an advantage.

That comes from the fact that she came into this game 0-7 against the Spartans.

She got that monkey off her back as the Falcons stayed perfect on the year with a 3-0 sweep.

“I just told my girls when we huddled at the end, since I’ve coached here at the high school, that’s the first win I’ve had against Boardman,” Bartlett said. “I know we’ve lost to them every year in the past and I believe in three sets. I know they’re always tough. We had to bring and those girls knew it.”

As a team, the Falcons (5-0) had 30 kills with Chelsie Wheeler leading the way with nine. Fitch held a size advantage on the front line.

“We’re definitely a shorter team,” Boardman coach Alyssa Birch said. “We were a little bit outmatched at the net. We tried to work a little with keeping ourselves off the net to make ourselves a little more available.

“We weren’t working so hard on playing powerful. We were trying to hit the spots. Since we were so outmatched in height.”

The Spartans (5-4) hit those spots with some consistency in the first set overcoming a 7-1 deficit early to get it within 19-17. Though, the Falcons regrouped to win 25-20 in that opening set.

Defensively, Fitch was led by Ella Sahli’s 13 digs. Overall, the defense accounted for 49 digs as points were hard to come by for Boardman.

Emma Bartlett led the Falcons with 15 of their 19 assists.

“We spent a lot of time working on defense,” Bartlett said. “I think they did a great job blocking and that’s something we focus a lot of attention to because we know it starts with defense. If we can’t stop that ball across the net or make good passes when it comes over, we can’t do anything else.”

That game plan carried on into the second set with Fitch coming away with a 25-15 win.

The Spartans were tied with the Falcons at four before Fitch methodically built out some space to come away with that 10-point win.

Boardman was led by Katie Stamp’s 10 kills. Kathryn O’Horo added seven respectfully.

Fitch won the third game 25-19 after Boardman started out with a 3-0 lead.

“This group is by far the best group I’ve had since I’ve been coaching at the high school level with just their team chemistry,” Bartlett said. “They were ready tonight and they brought it. These girls play for each other. When you have teams that do that, great things happen.”

Fitch will look to continue their perfect season when they head to Rocky River to take part in the Magnificent Varsity Showcase on Saturday.

“It’s early in the season,” Bartlett said. “We haven’t had very many matches. A true test to our ability will be this coming weekend. We’re really excited. We know we’re going to see super tough competition. I’m curious to see how we can pull it together over there.”

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