BOARDMAN - Momentum is arguably the biggest component of high school volleyball, and for the Salem Lady Quakers, an inability to recapture it in the waning sets of their Division II district final resulted in a loss to the Canfield Cardinals Thursday, 25-21, 20-25, 18-25, 17-25.
Despite winning the first set and scoring the first five points of the second, Salem couldn't keep up its pace.
"My girls all season when they are really fired up they play unbelievable," Salem head coach Allie Rich-Winner said. "The second that they lose the momentum, it's very hard for us to get that momentum back."
Salem took the first set in an up-tempo, back-and-forth contest. Canfield struggled and committed several errors to open the door for Salem.
"The first game, Canfield was making the mistakes and we were hammering them," Rich-Winner said.
The Lady Quakers opened up the second set with five-straight points, but Canfield responded to tie things up and eventually took control.
"We talked about how we were in this situation last year," Rich-Winner said. "We wanted it to not be a repeat of last year. The seniors wanted it so bad. They wanted to win and were hustling, but we started making too many mistakes."
Canfield also gave the Lady Quakers a steady dose of Nicole Luklan.
"When 16 (Lulkan) got to the back row, that's when we needed to run with the points," Rich-Winner said. "We had a hard time doing that. She's big and she hits right over top of our block every time. It was hard to block her with her getting up like that."
The ebb and flow of the first and second sets eventually gave way to a flurry of points to close out the match.
Salem's Lindsey Foster made several plays at the net to help string those along.
"She played tough all game," Rich-Winner said of Foster. "As a middle, you're blocking everywhere. That's very tiring. I give her a lot of credit. She kept working and in the huddle she was trying to keep everyone up."
Foster was a part of a group that included Megan Lehwald and Camrin Costal that helped lead Salem early on, and kept them believing until the final point.
"My middle's were really on tonight and tried to keep everyone together," Rich-Winner said. "Megan did an amazing job in the backcourt and I kept her in the front and she held herself together for being not very tall."
Rich-Winner credited the Lady Quakers strength of schedule for their ability to hang tough in the post season. A slate that featured many tough in-season opponents set the tone for their run in the tournament.
"I think that being in the NBC really helped us, because all of the teams in the NBC are tough," she said. "We played Cuyahoga Falls and Tusky Valley, too. So it was nice having those bigger games throughout the season to get us to this point."
In the third and fourth sets, Luklan, along with another big-hitting senior Sabrina Mangapora, found their power and aim above the net to grab and hold leads for the Lady Cardinals. Salem chipped away numerous times at deficits, but never enough to force a fifth set.
"I'm pleased," Rich-Winner said. "I'm happy with the way the played. As the underdog, I thought we came out and held our own."
The Lady Quakers finished the year at 15-10.