Bellevue makes quick work of Vermilion

ATTICA – One year ago, Bellevue entered its Division II district semifinal against Perkins as conference champions and on a roll.

This year was quite similar when the Lady Red took the floor against Vermilion.

This time, the moment was not too big, as top-seeded Bellevue rolled past third-seeded Vermilion, 25-16, 25-9, 25-17 Monday at Seneca East High School.

“It is a whole different team from last year,” Bellevue coach Karen Irons said. “I think experience helped us this year. That was one thing I worried about, but we were confident enough to know what to expect.”

The Lady Red improve to 19-5 and advance to face co-Sandusky Bay Conference Lake division champion Norwalk (16-9) Thursday at 5:30 p.m. back at Seneca East.

“We served really well tonight,” Irons said. “The whole key to the game is if you can not pass the ball, you can’t play. We were able to keep Vermilion out of system a lot with our tough serves.”

The teams split two regular-season meetings with each winning on the road. Bellevue won, 25-18, 25-11, 25-12 on Aug. 27 while Vermilion took a 25-15, 20-25, 25-22, 19-25, 17-15 win on Sept. 17.

“Vermilion beat us in five games,” Irons said. “They are a good opponent. Anything can happen.”

Bellevue trailed just twice all night, each coming in the first three points of a game. The Lady Red grabbed a 6-3 lead in Game 1 when Vermilion was whistled for a rotation error. The Sailors (15-10) did not go quietly and tied the game at 10 when Mary Carosella put down a kill.

But as quickly as Vermilion came, the momentum was snatched by Bellevue. The Lady Red won nine points in a row, which included five errors by the Sailors and two kills by Taylor Baxter. Vermilion drew back as close as seven points, but a serving error by the Sailors and a kill by Kailee Felder gave Bellevue the opening game.

“I think we tightened up a little bit,” Vermilion coach Bob Eis said. “We were trying to do a little more than we normally do.”

The Lady Red played even better in Game 2. Bellevue won nine points in a row to open a 14-3 lead. Baxter had three aces in the run and Felder put down another kill to end the bleeding.

A serving error halted the run, but only momentarily. The Lady Red won five more points for a 19-4 margin and finished the game on kills by Baxter and Brynn Vogel.

“We were here last year,” Irons said. “We got familiar with it and we were able to keep Vermilion off balance.”

Vermilion won the opening point of Game 3 for just it’s second lead of the night. The game was close at 9-8 before four consecutive points by Bellevue put a little bit of distance between the two.

Vermilion crawled back within a point on two different occasions, but as the Lady Red did all night, Bellevue won points in bunches to extend its lead. Three kills by Baxter and a block by Beyah Garcia made it 21-14, and after Madison Hrynciw smacked her third ace, Felder put down her eighth and final kill for the win.

“This is a great thing to learn from and understand,” Eis said. “Understand what this feeling was when we left this court tonight.”

Baxter had 18 kills on 33 of 36 hitting while connecting on 16 of 17 serves and nabbing 12 digs. Felder added 11 digs while Gabby Turner had three kills and two blocks. Kami Hay had 13 digs and Molly Bullion had 30 assists – giving her 2,700 for her career – good for 22nd most in OHSAA history.

“We knew our opponent and what they were able to do,” Irons said. “The main thing we have talked about the last five matches is to control our side of the net.”

Bellevue faces a Norwalk team it split two regular season meetings with. Each team won at home. Norwalk won on Sept. 17, 25-22, 28-30, 25-21, 25-16 and Bellevue rebounded on Oct. 10, 29-27, 25-27, 23-25, 25-19, 15-13.

“What more do you want,” Irons said. “It is whoever comes out and wants it more.”