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Bristol handles Mathews in 4 on senior night

BRISTOLVILLE — Two Northeastern Athletic Conference volleyball foes battled it out on senior night at Bristol on Wednesday evening, with the Panthers beating Mathews in four sets, 25-18, 25-9, 25-27, 25-15, behind the leadership of their four seniors.

Brook Songer, Marissa Sorvillo, Lindsay Miller and Alayna Sines are ready for the coming Division IV district tournament at Chalker. The foursome wears bows with their numbers and the word senior on them, in their hair, as a sign of unity.

“Our goal for the tournament is to beat Newbury,” Songer said. ” I think we can do it. We beat them the first time we played this season. When we play as a team, we’re good.”

Sorvillo echoed those sentiments.

“If we bring the game we brought today, we should accomplish all of our goals in the tournament,” Sorvillo said.

But teamwork and practice will be keys, according to their teammates.

“If we come out, with all of our heart, we can totally win against anybody,” Miller said. “As long as we come out as a team, there is no telling how far we can go.”

“We do need to work together as a team,” Sines said. “We all need to prep the best that we can every day in practice. If we work hard, we’ll achieve our goals in the tournament.”

Sines led Bristol with 24 assists and 13 digs and Songer was the leader with 19 service points and five aces.

Panthers coach Kaitlyn Christlieb has a super sophomore in Belle Zirzow to go along with the seniors. Zirzow totaled 11 kills and eight blocks for Bristol, which is seeded sixth and will play 11th-seeded host Chalker in the first round Oct. 16.

“We’re hoping to do well in the tournament,” said Christlieb, whose team improved to 10-11 with the win over Mathews. “When our girls play together as a team, they do great things. We want to hang a banner on the wall every year. The best time of the year to shine is in the tournament. We know it’s going to be a tough road with (second-seeded) Newton Falls on our side of the bracket, but we’re looking forward to the challenge.”

In contrast to Bristol (10-11), 10th-seeded Mathews has no seniors on the roster. Against the Panthers, the Mustangs were led by junior Liliana Marinkovich with 14 assists. Sophomore Addison Smith supplied eight digs and five kills and junior Ally Richards had a pair of blocks. Sophomore Kaylen McCollum served an ace during the Mustangs’ third-set victory.

Mathews, which was without two starters in Kylie Nicholson and Emma Gates, dropped to 7-15 overall. Nicholson suffered a head injury during the match.

“My setter, Liliana Marinkovich, has really stepped up and taken a leadership role on the team,” Mathews coach Heather Sankey said. “Kaylen McCollum and Addison Smith have really stepped up as well. We’re young. All of the girls are eager to learn and get better.

“We’re excited for the tournament. We got seeded where we needed to be. We’re playing Maplewood. The tournament is kind of our league with Newton Falls and St. Johns added. I preach to the girls that the tournament is a brand new season. We take what we learned from the season and everybody is zero and zero.”

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