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Howland sweeps Boardman

Staff photo / Brian Yauger Howland’s Mia Pantalone sends the ball back over the net trying to spike it. Maria Torres, 28, of Boardman attempts to block it.

HOWLAND — On Howland’s volleyball senior night, the Tigers went blow-for-blow with Boardman and came out on top in each of the three sets to get the win in an All-American Conference showdown.

“We knew it was going to be a big one with senior night,” Tigers coach Amanda Lingenfelter said. “Plus we were on the road against them a few weeks ago and beat them in five so we knew they were coming for us.”

Spartans coach Alyssa Birch didn’t think the games were as close as the score indicated however.

“I’ve got to give Howland a lot of credit for their games tonight,” Birch said. “When I looked at the scoreboard, it felt like we were playing a lot more down than the score actually read. So when we were in our huddles, we were talking about playing to what the score was, keeping our mental part of the game intact and having a bit more confidence.”

After the first set, which ended 25-18 in favor of the Tigers, Boardman came out in the second reinvigorated. They held the lead for a good portion of the set in what was a back-and-forth battle between the two rivals.

Staff photo / Brian Yauger Mia Pantalone of Howland leaps in the air to attempt to block a ball coming her way.

Late in the set, with the Spartans ready to close out the match, Lingenfelter called a timeout to let her team refocus on the game and try to get the advantage on the scoreboard.

We just needed to reset and refocus on what the goal was,” Lingenfelter said. “We needed to relax and pass the ball. We were already up a set so we had a lot of momentum going already.”

That timeout proved to be a turning point in the match, giving the Tigers a spark to reclaim the lead just in time, winning 25-23 and taking a 2-0 lead on the night.

“We missed some points in critical moments that cost us, especially in that second set,” Birch said.

The second win gave Howland a firm grasp of the momentum in set number three, which led to a 25-21 victory in favor of the Tigers.

Despite the missed opportunities in key moments, Birch saw plenty from her team to be proud of on the night and going forward.

“I think there were a lot of good things to celebrate and I was really proud of our offense tonight,” Birch said. “I just thought we didn’t capitalize in critical moments.”

The Spartans (5-4, 1-3 AAC) look to recover on the road Saturday against a tough Nordonia team. Boardman isn’t a team unfamiliar with snatching a win from the jaws of defeat, recently coming back from a 2-0 hole to beat Canfield on Sept. 10.

Birch wants to see a bit more of the confidence they showed in that situation against Canfield during the entire match on Saturday.

“I want to see them come out with a little bit more confidence,” she said. “We were down 0-2 tonight and we’ve been down 0-2 before and we’ve come back and won, so I want to see them have confidence in themselves and find that for the next games.”

Howland (8-2, 3-1) takes on Austintown Fitch for the second time in two weeks and is hoping to flip the script on the Falcons after a 3-1 defeat the first time they met.

“We’re excited for it,” Lingenfelter said. ” It’s coming up quick because we just had them last week. It was a close match, we took them to four sets and we’d love to play them again. … We need to make some adjustments to their big hitters. We know what we need to do, it’s just whether or not we do it.”

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