Early leads and stout defense told the story for Kane.
The Lady Wolves jumped ahead in each set during Thursday’s win at Bradford. With offense coming from a variety of sources, they then turned to their back line, which impressed in holding off Bradford’s attack.
Behind 11 kills from Cora Jekielek, Kane won in straight sets — 25-23, 25-19, 25-12 — and improved to 7-1 on the year.
“I think we were spot on defensively,” Kane coach Judy Kessler said. “When you’re playing with a lead, you take a few more risks with your offense, which is what we were doing. We ran some back slides and quick balls to the outside, which kind of kept Bradford a little bit off balance.”
The match was played fairly cleanly, the first set marked by long rallies as Kane clung to a narrow lead.
The Lady Wolves led throughout the set, and each time Bradford threatened to tie or take the lead, Kane strung points together to re-distance itself. Down 21-17, Bradford came out strong after a timeout and tied the set at 21.
Kane repelled the attack once again, however, and a kill by Maya Smith along the back line finished the set.
Kane won the first four points of set two, as Bradford continued to fall behind in the early stages of sets, as it did in Tuesday’s match.
“Pulling away so early in the game really sets your team up for success,” Bradford coach Haley Vinelli said. “When you’re on the other end of that, like we were tonight, it makes us have to work hard to not only close that gap but keep the momentum to pull away and finish the game. Being at that disadvantage really hurts us in the end among other things.”
Kane jumped out to a 10-5 lead, using strong play from its back line to neutralize Bradford’s offense. The lead eventually grew to 14-6, forcing a Bradford timeout.
The Lady Owls rallied out of the break and cut the deficit to two (15-13), but like in the first set, Kane absorbed Bradford’s comeback.
“They were picking up on everything we were doing and that can get very frustrating and tiring,” Vinelli said. “I’ve told the girls numerous times, volleyball is a game of strategy, finding the open pockets and pushing the ball there. We need to work on being more aware of our opponent’s side and making the right decisions.”
Kane’s lead at the start of the third set grew to as large as 9-2, and then 14-4. The Lady Wolves cruised from there, piecing together a 25-12 victory.
“Our back line is so crucial,” Kessler said. “I keep the same four girls in serve receive all the time and we work a ton on their passing and receiving. They work together so much that they feel each other. When I have those same defenders in all the time, they just know how to read each other, and they’re getting pretty adept at reading what the offense is doing and where our blockers are.”
Smith totaled eight kills for Kane, while Mia Anderson had six kills and four blocks and Jayna Johnson recorded an ace and 11 assists.
“When I have six people on the floor and five of them, for the most part, are seniors… they know that the other team is going to score points,” Kessler said. “We know what we have to do over here, and then we just keep moving forward. It’s that confidence.”
Lydia Sarnoski led Bradford with five kills and two blocks, while Sophia Asp added two blocks and Maddie Dougherty posted three digs.
“We had to work hard to come back in sets one and two, but in set three, Kane ultimately wanted it more and worked harder to get the win,” Vinelli said. “We couldn’t seem to make anything happen.”
Bradford will return to action Monday when it hosts Elk County Catholic, while Kane will travel to the Redbank Valley tournament Saturday.