JEFFERSON - The Lakeview volleyball team had a vast edge in size, talent and experience over Conneaut in a Division II sectional semifinal at Falcon Gymnasium on Tuesday.
The Bulldogs used every one of those advantages to down the Spartans, 25-4, 25-7, 25-6.
"We weren't sure what to expect from Conneaut tonight," Lakeview coach Scott Taylor said. "They have a decent record, and I think there was only two teams in this district with a worse record.
"There are a lot of good teams in this area, so we took nothing for granted. I think it was more a matter of our strengths matching up better against theirs."
"There's no other way to describe it," Conneaut coach Mo Ritari said. "They are just a very talented team. The scores really make it look bad, but we played fairly well tonight. They're taller, and their experience really showed."
That's an apt description of the match. Paced by deadly serving from Caitlin McDivitt and Jessica Silbaugh and domination of the nets by Calli Schmitt and Marissa Naples, Lakeview jumped out to a commanding lead in the opening set. McDivitt served the Bulldogs to a 4-0 lead. After Lakeview got the ball back on a kill from libero Rachelle Calvin, Silbaugh served up 14 points in a row, keyed by four kills and two blocks by Schmitt, and the route was on.
The Bulldogs (20-3), seeded third, will play fourth-seeded Geneva in a Division II sectional final Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The season is over for the Spartans (10-12).
Conneaut especially had trouble both serving and dealing with Bulldog serves. Silbaugh fired home 27 points and McDivitt added 16.
While doing a good job defensively most of the night by keeping the ball alive, the Spartans got only a single point in service in the second game from Emilee Bucci and another pair from Emily Lower late in the third set. There just was no getting an edge in momentum for the Spartans, and momentum is the name of the game in volleyball.
Heading into his last tournament action after leading the Bulldogs for 17 seasons, Taylor will take fond memories of this team into retirement at the end of the school year.
"These are a great bunch of girls to work with," he said. "We got our role players into the match, too, and they just got it done. They've been on a roll lately, too. I think we've won our last 40 sets in finishing out the season. I can't recall any other team doing that."
Senior co-caption Taylor Waid describes the Bulldogs best.
"I just hope we can get two spots further down the tournament trail than we did last year," she said. "I think we have really played well as a team all year. I just want to finish strong and end the season with as much fun as we've had all year."
Taylor knows the road ahead is tough.
"We're doing well, but now we get ready to play Geneva on Thursday night," he said. "That should be a tough one, and nothing after that is easy, either."