By Kurt Ritzman
Assistant Sports Editor
FULTON, Ill. —
Erie outlasted Fulton in Game 2 on Thursday night to earn a sweep in Three Rivers Conference volleyball.
“It felt great,” Erie coach Alicia Murphy said after a 25-22, 29-27 win. “They’re a good club. They beat us at our place, so it was a little bit redeeming to come here and get a win.”
The Cardinals faced game point twice after trailing for most of the game but rebounded.
Fulton took a 25-24 lead, but Peyton Rus knocked down a kill to tie the game for Erie. The Steamers had another chance after an Erie error.
Paige Rus had a tip kill to tie the game at 26. After a Fulton error gave Erie match point, Chelsea Lesniewski drilled one of her four Game 2 kills to tie it again.
For Erie, Rachel Cobert and Megan Heun combined on a block to earn another match point. The Cardinals cashed this one in after Fulton committed an error.
“We passed really well at the end of the game,” Murphy said. “Our hitters put the ball away. They were making smart plays. They were swinging hard. Our setters did a great job moving the ball around.”
The Cardinals might not have been in position to pull out the match in two games had it not been for some confusion earlier.
Early in Game 2, Marla Stoecker took over the serve for Fulton with the score tied at 3.
Stoecker served an ace to put Fulton ahead 4-3. On the next point, Amy Knight drilled a kill to apparently put the Steamers ahead 5-3.
After the point, the scorers’ table got the attention of one of the officials. After a few minutes of discussion it was determined that Fulton started with the wrong server at the beginning of the game. The official told the Erie statistician that it was his mistake, and the officials decided to let play continue with no changes. There was no signal that the previous point did not count.
In the confusion, the point from Knight’s kill was never credited to Fulton. Stoecker served the next point and Lesniewski knocked down a kill, but this time the scoreboard read Fulton ahead 5-3. With the non-credited point, the Steamers would have won Game 2 26-24 following a kill by Kylie Kennedy. Instead Kennedy’s kill gave the Steamers a 25-24 lead, following which Peyton Rus tied the game.
“I was hoping we’d get that second game,” said Fulton coach Stacy Germann, who wouldn't comment on the situation early in Game 2. “I think in that third game, the girls would have taken some control.”
Despite the loss, Germann was pleased with the way her team played.
“We’ve played pretty poor lately,” she said. “It’s a loss in the books, but I told them it’s a win for us right now because it’s a lot better than we’ve played lately. It’s a step in the right direction for us. My girls kept their energy the whole time; they kept their heads up the whole time; they stayed intense the whole time. That’s something that we’ve been lacking. Right now, we need to focus on the positive and they did that well.”
Erie started the match by scoring the first five points — a kill from each Rus and an ace by Mary Chapman.
The Cardinals held the lead the rest of the way, with leads of 16-8 and 19-13.
Fulton made a comeback, scoring six of the next nine points, including back-to-back kills by Morgan Wierema that pulled the Steamers to within 22-19.
“We started slow,” Germann said. “We came back and made it close. We started playing more intense. It took some guts to do that. I was proud of them to come back.”
Erie finished the game and continued their strong play recently.
“They’re meshing really well together,” Murphy said. “The girls are talking. More importantly they want it and they have the confidence in themselves that they can go get it.”
ERIE 25-29, FULTON 22-27
Kills — Erie (Paige Rus 9, Savannah Mettler 8); Fulton (Rachael Beiermann 7, Morgan Wierema 6, Kylie Kennedy 4, Chelsea Lesniewski 4). Assists — Erie (Katelyn Temple 16); Fulton (Edfors 13, Beiermann 10). Ace serves — Erie (Courtney Cobert, Deanna Black, Mary Chapman); Fulton (Beiermann 2, Marla Stoecker 2, Amy Knight 2). Blocks — Erie (Rachel Cobert 3, Megan Heun 2, Mettler); Fulton (Wierema 2, Knight). Digs — Fulton (Beiermann 8, Ann Renkes 5).