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Lakeview overcomes slow start, blanks Canfield 3-0 to continue undefeated season

Staff photo / Neel Madhavan Lakeview sophomore Reagan Price (12) goes for a kill, while Canfield senior Abby Muckelroy (10) and sophomore Meredith Ross (20) attempt to block at the net Monday night.

CANFIELD — Lakeview volleyball has been dominant this season, so when the Bulldogs got off to a slow start Monday against Canfield, head coach Heather Guthrie wasn’t worried.

“The first few points of the set, we were just not mentally focused those first couple points,” Guthrie said. “But anytime you play a team, the first 10 points you have to feel the (opposing) team out. So we know as soon as one of us hits 10, we have to start running.”

Lakeview bounced back from the slow start to ease past Canfield 3-0 (25-19, 25-12, 25-11) Monday night to stay unbeaten on the season.

The change in mentality is something the team has improved on compared to last season, according to Bulldogs senior hitter Tara Lytle.

“Last year, we would get down and we would not be able to come back,” Lytle said. “I feel like this year, we’ve grown as a team and have been able to come back from that and look as if the set’s not over, so we can keep going and get back to that winning state.”

The Cardinals jumped ahead against the undefeated Bulldogs 6-1 in the first set, but Lakeview came back to knot things up 10-10. Service errors by the Bulldogs helped allow Canfield to hang around. But, at 15-all, Lakeview closed out the set with a 10-4 run.

“I think we started off strong — serving is definitely a strong suit for us, but then they earned those points right back,” said Canfield head coach Krista Nesbitt. “We talked about that being a little bit of a mental break that we took that we can’t do if we want to beat these good teams. We have to be able to take a lead and push it, and until we can do that, it’s going to be hard to beat a team like Lakeview when they have such good servers, hitters and passers.”

Lakeview avoided the slow start in the second set, instead running out to a 10-4 lead to open the frame.

With Lakeview leading 15-10, the Bulldogs’ hitters started to come alive, taking control of things at the net and finishing off the set with a 10-2 run.

“Our hitters know that it comes from our first ball contact and our second ball contact,” Guthrie said. “Our setters were in a great offense tonight. They kept (Canfield’s) defense guessing. When we’re in system and we have a three-point pass where our setters can run right, middle, outside-right, our setters are able to dish the ball to all three (hitters) to keep the defense on their toes.”

Lytle led things at the point of attack for Lakeview, finishing with 17 kills, while senior Maggie Pavlansky was instrumental in setting her up, leading the team with 30 assists. Brooke Schneider also had 15 digs defensively for the Bulldogs.

“Our passing was on point, we had good energy and the sets were good,” Lytle said. “Everything was just together. We clicked as a team and I think that just made everything go well.”

In the third set, Canfield held steady, taking a 7-5 lead at one point, but it was shortlived as Lakeview answered with a 5-0 run to retake the lead. The Bulldogs pulled away and won the set 25-11 to close out the match.

Nesbitt said a lack of communication contributed to things falling apart for the Cardinals after they built their early leads in both the first and third sets.

“(Lakeview) has really good hitters, but our team needs to do a better job of being more aggressive so that it’s not easy for them to run something in system,” Nesbitt said. “(Then) they have to run something more out of system to give us some better chances to run offense on our side.”

Senior Abby Muckelroy led Canfield with seven kills. Senior Riley Kincade and freshman Carly Fleming each finished with six assists, while senior Maddy Cleevely tallied nine digs.

The win continues Lakeview’s undefeated start to the season, as the Bulldogs are now 11-0. During that stretch, the team has dropped just two sets all season, and now have built a commanding lead atop the Northeast-8 Conference standings.

“We’re really locked in and focused,” Guthrie said. “We want to win and we believe in each other. The girls all trust each other and they all want to be here. They all want to win and they all want to play. So that really helps when your whole team has the heart and desire to win and fight through everything.”

The Bulldogs put their undefeated record on the line again today on the road against Niles, while Canfield (8-6) ventures to face Ursuline tonight.

nmadhavan@tribtoday.com

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