JA spikers fall to Hartley in D-II regional semifinals


Jonathan Alder’s Kourtney Reynolds (5) goes up for a block against Bishop Hartley’s Chiamaka Nwokolo at Heath High School on Thursday. The Lady Pioneers’ season came to an end with a 3-1 loss to the Hawks in the reginal semifinals.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)
When it comes to tournament time, a team better hope that its “A” game is working at top efficiency.
The Lady Pioneers of Jonathan Alder, though, couldn’t quite get their game up to par Thursday evening during a 3-1 volleyball loss to Columbus Bishop Hartley.
The 26-28, 25-18, 23-25, 9-25 loss to the Hawks came during the Division II regional semifinals at Heath High School.
“Hartley just got into the flow of their game more than we got into ours,” said Alder coach Kim Hayes, whose third-seeded team from the district tourney ended the season with a 22-5 record.
“We just had a hard time getting into a system,” she said. “By that, I mean we didn’t have very many good passes.
“When our passing is off, everything is,” said Hayes. “We can’t get the ball to our setters, who can’t get the ball to our hitters.”
The opening set was played about as evenly as anyone could expect.
The Hawks, the No. 5 seed from the district, held the early lead, only to see JA go up by a 10-8 edge on a Hartley digging error.
There were stalemates at points 11, 15 and 16. The latter tie came when Jon Alder’s Kourtney Reynolds tipped the ball over the net for a kill.
An ace serve by Colleen Sweeney later pushed the Hawks to a 19-18 lead.
Corinne Parker’s tip for JA tied the game at 21-all. She then blasted the ball over the net for a 22-22 deadlock.
Aiva Smith’s ace serve put Hartley at set point, 24-23 before the Hawks were called for a double hit.
Emma Shepherd’s kill gave JA a 25-24 lead, but Alder’s passing error tied the game at 25-all.
Hartley’s Chiamaka Nwokolo, a 6-2 middle hitter who is a University of Pittsburgh signee, gave her team a 26-25 margin on a block.
Another Hawk block sailed out of play to tie the score at 26-26.
JA committed a net violation and Nwokolo gave Hartley its 28-26 win on a kill.
The Lady Pioneers scored the first four points of the second set before Hartley rallied for a 6-5 lead.
Alder clawed back and overtook the Hawks.
A smash over the net by Reynolds put JA up 16-13.
Abby Jester set the ball for the 6-3 Reynolds as Alder went on top, 18-14.
Reynolds later blasted the ball over Nwokolo’s arms for a 20-14 lead.
The Hawks committed several hitting miscues down the stretch as the Pioneers evened the match at 1-1.
The third set was as tightly contested as the opening game.
Both teams swapped leads, but could never quite establish a comfort zone.
There were also numerous stalemates before Jester set kills for Parker and Ava Francis that put Alder up 21-18.
The Lady Pioneers, though, could not hold onto the upper hand as they committed several hitting and blocking errors.
The Hawks went to set point at 24-22 when a JA block flew out-of-bounds.
A Hartley hitting error pulled Alder to within a point at 24-23.
Sweeney, however, came through with the Hawks’ final point on a kill that gave Hartley a 2-1 lead in sets.
Fatigue appeared to set in on Alder as the fourth set got under way.
The Hawks tallied the first six points and kept increasing their lead.
The margin climbed as Hartley alternated between blasting the ball over the net or getting softer tips to land on JA’s side of the court.
The Lady Pioneers kept up the fight, but had to expend even more energy in doing so.
A kill by Francis later pulled JA to within 16-9, but that marked the final point of the local team’s season.
A gassed Alder squad committed a multitude of hitting errors down the stretch.
As such, Hartley (20-6) was able to advance to Saturday’s regional title match, also to be played at Heath, against Indian Valley.
“Hartley just kept us off-balance for a good portion of the match,” said Hayes. “They’d hit the ball and then tip it over. It was hit-tip-hit-tip.
“We just never knew what was coming.”

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