Lake falls in state semi

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Sports - By Nate Barnes nbarnes@news-her­ald.com @NateBar­nes_ on Twit­ter

FAIRBORN >> If Lake Catholic tal­lies dou­ble-digit er­rors in a given set, coach Rob Cline knows what’s in store for the Cougars.

Such was the case in all three sets of Lake Catholic’s match against Colum­bus Bishop Hart­ley at Wright State Nov. 9. In turn, the Cougars’ sea­son ended in a Divi­sion II state semi­fi­nal for the third straight year af­ter a 3-0 loss to the Hawks.

Lake Catholic fin­ished the match with 39 er­rors. The match Nov. 9 re­sem­bled the team’s early sea­son play, rather than its per­for­mance in a seven-match win­ning streak that be­gan Oct. 9 at Gilmour. Dur­ing that span, the Cougars won the Jef­fer­son District and Stow Re­gional cham­pi­onships.

“It’s hard to ex­plain be­cause we have not played that way since prior to Gilmour,” Cline said. “We played a lot like that early in the sea­son, so in­ex­pli­ca­ble for me. I didn’t even use my scout­ing, it was all about the mis­takes we were go­ing to make.”

Bishop Hart­ley ad­vances to the D-II state fi­nal against Holy Name. Lake Catholic fin­ishes the 2018 sea­son 16-12.

Mid­dle Chia­maka Nwokolo, a Pitt com­mit, led the Hawks with 14 kills and four blocks. Kayla Malone added seven kills and led all play­ers with 16 digs. Colleen Sweeney recorded 27 as­sists and three aces.

Se­nior out­side hit­ter Ash­ley Browske and ju­nior mid­dle Ainslie McLaugh­lin recorded eight kills apiece for the Cougars. Ju­nior set­ter Katy Yopko fin­ished with 23 as­sists. Se­nior set­ter Mal­lory Lough led the team with 15 digs.

Lake Catholic com­mit­ted 25 kills and 25 hit­ting er­rors.

“We didn’t play like we have in the play­off sea­son,” Browske said. “It’s dis­ap­point­ing, but like, this sea­son has been a roller coaster. The fact that we were able to get back here is tremen­dous but it kind of stinks we didn’t get to do the whole thing.”

Bishop Hart­ley won the first set, 25-18, then took the sec­ond, 25-23. The Cougars led the sec­ond set, 20-18, be­fore two er­rors al­lowed the Hawks to tie the set. A kill and a block from Nwokolo set Alexa Wil­son up to put away match point and give Bishop Hart­ley a 2-0 match lead.

Lake Catholic planned to dou­ble Nwokolo in the mid­dle but was un­able to ex­e­cute its de­fen­sive strat­egy.

“She was just good,” Lough said. “I feel like ev­ery­one was too tense the whole time and re­ally didn’t fig­ure out how to do their ac­tual jobs.”

Bishop Hart­ley jumped out to a 7-2 lead as Cline spent both of his time­outs early in the third set. The Cougars ral­lied within three, 14-11, be­fore the Hawks closed out the match, 25-15.

“This team just gut­ted it out every sin­gle time,” Bishop Hart­ley coach Michael Wrahe said. “It’s nice to win in three.”

The loss con­cluded Lake Catholic’s first sea­son un­der Cline af­ter he was hired fol­low­ing Rich Sev­erino’s re­tire­ment. The Cougars will re­turn ris­ing se­niors McLaugh­lin, Yopko and Taylor Re­se­tar af­ter they played in­te­gral roles this sea­son. Cline looks for­ward to the de­vel­op­ment of tal­ented fresh­men Jes­sica Wil­son and Caitlin McCrone, and sopho­more No­rah Vargo.

Yopko, a three-year starter at set­ter and North­ern Ken­tucky com­mit, will be counted on to as­sume the man­tle left be­hind by play­ers in the Class of 2018.

“I’m re­ally go­ing to miss Ash­ley’s lead­er­ship on the court and Mal­lory al­ways try­ing to bring ev­ery­body up,” Yopko said, turn­ing to Lough. “Mal­lory, you did good to­day.”

Lough’s vol­ley­ball ca­reer will con­tinue at UMassLow­ell while Browske, along­side Nwokolo, is com­mit­ted to Pitt. She was a four-year cap­tain, twotime All-Ohio se­lec­tion and helped lead the Cougars to the state fi­nal four the last three sea­sons.

“What I’m go­ing to take away from Lake Catholic is that they’re fam­ily and that I’m al­ways go­ing to be a Cougar,” Browske said. “I’m al­ways go­ing to sup­port them and I hope, next year, Katy can lead the team back here, too, and get the thing done.”

NATE BARNES — THE NEWS-HER­ALD

Colum­bus Bishop Hart­ley cel­e­brates its 3-0 vic­tory against Lake Catholic in a Divi­sion II state semi­fi­nal at Wright State Nov. 9.

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