Chloe Leech

Maplewood’s Chloe Leech (1) had a team-high 15 kills during Wednesday’s Region 4 sweep at Meadville.

MEADVILLE — It’s always important for teams to be playing their best when heading into the postseason. By winning their 14th straight match on Wednesday at Meadville, it’s pretty safe to say that the Maplewood Tigers girls volleyball team is surging into the District 10 postseason.

Chloe Leech and Sadie Thomas combined to rack up 28 kills as the Tigers swept the homestanding Meadville Bulldogs 25-18, 25-15, 25-15 in Region 4 play at the House of Thrills. 

With six different Tigers recording at least two of the team’s 45 kills, Maplewood displayed a balanced attack. Leech (15) and Thomas (13) did most of the damage, but Kaysea Thomas (7), Avery Brunot (6), Bailey Varndell (2) and Madison Vergona (2) gave Meadville more than enough viable options to try to slow down. Varndell finished with 39 assists in the offense.

“I thought we spread the offense well tonight,” Maplewood coach Shelia Bancroft said. “It’s key going into the playoffs. Yes, we do have two really nice outside hitters but we have some other good hitters too. We have to keep everybody’s hands on the ball.”

The Tiger defense was just as efficient as a team on Wednesday night, with seven players recording at least two digs and five of those making at least five. McKenna Crawford and Leech totaled six, and Madison Crawford, Sadie Thomas and Varndell had five each.

Vergona took on a larger serving role than in previous matches as she attempted 22 serves and recorded an ace. She was on the serve for 30 percent of the team’s serves and a couple of key Tiger runs throughout the match.

“Vergona served very well,” Bancroft said. “She’s not somebody we used early on in the season but she serves a nice, deep float ball. The big thing is that she handles the ball well when it comes across. She’s just one of those players probably overlooked (by other teams).”

Maplewood held 13-5 and 15-5 early leads in the first two sets, respectively, before fending off a couple of late charges from the Bulldogs. Meadville provided more of a threat in set three, as the first 12 points were split evenly. Maplewood then used a pair of four-point runs to help pull away and cap off the sweep.

“Meadville is a good team, but they just happen to be in a tough region,” Bancroft said of the Bulldogs. “They serve you tough and keep you on your toes.”

With the victory and a Conneaut Area sweep of Meadville on Tuesday, the Tigers and the Eagles head into tonight’s final region matches tied in the Region 4 standings with identical 10-1 records. Maplewood (17-2 overall) travels to Oil City while CASH heads to Warren. If both teams take care of their respective opponents tonight, the two schools will share the Region 4 regular season championship.

Bancroft isn’t overlooking Oil City though, even after the Tigers earned a home sweep of the Oilers 25-11, 25-5, 25-6, back on Oct. 6. However, she is proud of her team for being in position to share or win the region title outright.

“If you would have asked me at the beginning of the season if we’d be sitting here with two (overall) losses in the region that were in and the non-region schedule that we had, I would have never guessed it,” Bancroft said. “This is probably one of the strongest schedules I’ve set up. For them to be at two losses right now, it speaks highly for them. We have a lot of volleyball left and hopefully we can take care of business at Oil City tonight.”

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