(PAINESVILLE, Ohio) – The Lake Erie Storm volleyball team hosted the first round of the Great Midwest Athletic Conference tournament Tuesday evening against the Tiffin University Dragons.
The Storm defeated the Dragons 20-25, 25-20, 25-20, and 25-23 to advance to the second round which will take place this Friday.
The Dragons started the match with leads throughout the first set. Jenna Huffman (Jr.) led the Dragons for the match with a double-double. She had 24 kills, 12 digs, 3 total blocks, and had a hitting percentage of .420.
Energy from the crowd reinforced home-court advantage with a momentum swing for the Storm halfway through the second set when Lake Erie took the lead over Tiffin 19-17 on a kill by Crystal Kedroske (Sr.) set up by Alexis Thomas (Sr.). The Storm finished the set with a 3 point rally-run before Tiffin's coaching staff called timeout with a score of 22-19 before Lake Erie took the set.
The Storm and Dragons went back and forth in sets three and four, but the Storm held out with the help of two big final plays from Storm freshman Maria Blatnik. Blatnik was set up for a kill by Thomas to put the Storm up 24-23, and then had a block assist with Paige Allen for the win.
Lake Erie's Head Coach, Kyle Peck, was excited about his team's victory. After the match, he said, "This is the first year that our conference has had four different hosting locations for the top four seeds. We were very, very fortunate to host. The atmosphere was absolutely insane. It probably earned us four or five points throughout the night. Tiffin is the tallest and most physical team we've seen all year. We knew we would have to stop Huffman and Curry. We put up a block on them in the hopes of getting a lot of touches, which slowed it down and let us control the ball more than the last time we faced them. Tonight was a really good team win. I'm really proud of our girls for fighting and working together as a team to get this win."
Kedroske led the Storm with a double-double. She had 19 kills, 22 digs, 3 total blocks, and 21 points on the night. Hailey Nielsen added 15 kills for the Storm, and Courtney Rosebrook and Maria Blatnik each added 12. Blatnik paced the Storm offensively with a hitting percentage of .429 for the night. Standout Sr. setter, Alexis Thomas, supported the Storm with 7 kills and 53 assists, and Moe Briggs held it down defensively for the Storm with 21 digs.
Next up for the Storm are the G-MAC Semi-Finals. They will head to take on the number one team in the conference, Hillsdale College, this Friday at 5pm.