Clippers oust Blue Devils

LISBON – The Columbiana volleyball team moves to the next round and to one of the Clippers’ biggest adversaries this season.

The fourth-seeded Clippers knocked off seventh-seeded Lisbon, 25-20, 25-21, 25-22, in a Divison IV sectional tournament Monday.

The Clippers (13-11) relied on heavy hitting from Shayla Ray and sets from Lisa Highley and Emily Witmer.

As the Clippers’ power hitter with nine points, 19 kills and 12 digs, Ray knew that the team was ready for the tournament.

“We felt pumped up from the beginning,” Ray said. “When we come out with fire, our opponents tend to crumble.”

Lisa Highley also had a big night for the Clippers with 13 assists and 37 sets, followed by Emily Witmer with 27 sets and nine assists and Carly Sawders with 14 blocks.

The Clipper came through at the net with their improved blocking, which Columbiana coach Linda Knox saw throughout the season.

“Our blocking has come a long way since the beginning of the season,” Knox said. “It played an intricate part in our win this evening.”

The Clippers return to Nace Gymnasium on Wednesday against one of their toughest competitors this season, Heartland Christian.

“We have split the season with them,” Knox said. “First time this season, we played five sets at their place and we won. Second time around, at our place, it went five and they won. So they’re pumped, and their ready to take them, and they said this game will be in our favor.”

The Blue Devils (6-17) had opportunities to force a fourth game, with a strong front line led by Sarah Boyd, Taylor Siefke and Kayla Dickson in the third set. They carried five-point leads, and closed in on the Clippers’ leads, but lost them due to unforced errors.

“We made some crucial errors and crucial times,” Lisbon coach Cara Nyardy said. “You don’t see some of the other teams doing that, especially since you can’t do that against a team like Columbiana.”

Taylor Siefke led the Blue Devils with 10 kills and three blocks. Following Siefke was Ana Sanor with 15 assists and 55 sets, Sarah Boyd with 12 assists, 44 sets and three aces, Hannah Hiscox with 10 kills and Alexis Summers with seven kills.

The Blue Devils’ no-quit attitude they displayed all season was in full force Monday.

“We didn’t quit, we haven’t been quitting lately,” Nyardy said. “We’re scrappy, and we have to be that way because we so short, so we have to be big on defense.”

As their season ends, Nyardy reflects on the improvements the Blue Devils made throughout the season.

“We’ve made leaps and bounds from beginning to the end,” Nyardy said. “We were getting better time and time again, little too short, little too late.”

Ninth-seeded Youngstown Christian also punched its ticket to the next round after eliminating 10th-seeded East Canton, 25-18, 25-11, 15-25, 30-28, in Monday’s opener.

Sarah Couch led Youngstown Christian with six kills, followed by Parris Yanno with 11 assists and 15 sets and Joy Swanson with six blocks.

Natalie Spitale and Amelia Pennell led East Canton with Spitale’s 13 points and Pennell’s 11 points.