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Mineral Ridge bounces back from first loss

Rams take down Jackson-Milton, 3-0, to keep undefeated conference record alive

MINERAL RIDGE — Mineral Ridge got back to work on Tuesday with a home game against Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference rival Jackson-Milton.

The Rams (12-1) dropped their first match of the season on Saturday against West Branch (11-2), but they bounced back and prevailed 25-22, 25-16, 25-17 over the Blue Jays.

“It was extremely important to bounce back today,” Rams coach Ron Lesko said. “We worked hard in the gym yesterday. We had a really good practice. We emphasized that it’s just one loss. It’s not anything that’s going to set us back. It was against a good team, and it was non-conference.”

Senior Mia Greco (team-high 13 kills and 14 blocks) had the Blue Jays (7-6, 4-5) thinking about an upset early.

“We came out tough in the first game,” Jackson-Milton coach Stephen Mohr said. “Ridge is undefeated in the conference. We were hoping to come out with the win. We tried to be the spoilers tonight.”

The Rams, who are 9-0 in the MVAC Scarlet Tier, are currently ranked 9th in the state in Division III.

“The kids all know how highly we are ranked,” Lesko said. “It is important to them. It’s not something that I really focus on though. I feel rankings are a little skewed.

“It was great to see our kids put forth the effort that they did tonight. After losing, they could’ve possibly had a bit of that sports hangover, but they didn’t. They did a nice job.”

Paige Grope (team-high 12 assists) dove to the floor to dig one out. Grace Johns set up Greco for the kill as the Jays trailed 19-15 in the second.

Seniors Giana Paris, Hannah Loeb (5 blocks), Mia Seruga (13 digs) and Olivia Booth (9 kills) helped the Rams finish off set number two.

Senior Emily Fultz (team-high 14 digs) has an impressive jump-serve that got the Jays out to a 4-0 advantage in the third.

However, Faith Schneider (team-high 18 digs and 12 kills) spiked it over to get the Rams within a point at 9-8.

Freshman Charlize Saunders served an ace for the Blue Jays, but Sam Aulet (game-high 28 assists) placed it with both hands to give the Rams the lead late in the set.

Mineral Ridge closed out the match with terrific serving from Booth, and a long-range smash from sophomore Ava Hulett.

“It was all about coming back from our first loss,” Hulett said. “That first set was rough. But, we came through and played a great match. We want to win every time we step on the court.”

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