By SCOTT COTTOS
FOSTORIA — They say it’s not how you start, but how you finish.
And coach Krissy Lotycz was happy that her Fostoria High School volleyball team picked up steam as it worked its way toward a 25-18, 25-16, 25-12 victory over Genoa on Tuesday night in a first-round match in the Division III Seneca East district.
Junior standout Tyriana Settles walloped 25 kills and classmate Dakota Thomas handed out 40 assists for the Redmen, who improved their record to 16-7 and advanced to a 7 p.m. quarterfinal match on Saturday at Collins Western Reserve. The Roughriders upped their record to 16-7 on Tuesday night with a 25-14, 25-19, 25-8 whipping of Woodmore.
“I think we started off a little bit slow out of the gates,” Lotycz said after her squad beat its fellow Northern Buckeye Conference member for the third time this season. “I think we were just a little out of our routine, not having a (junior varsity) match before us.
“But, eventually, we got our flow and our routine down, and we pushed them to work a little bit. We increased our tempo and level of play, especially when we had different incentives that we put out there, as far as goals to challenge them. We definitely picked up the speed as the sets went on.”
Lotycz said challenging her players in various terms of play efficiency and statistics during a set helps keep them going when they have a match well in hand.
“If you don’t put challenges out there, then it’s meaningless for them,” she said. “I definitely told them it can’t be a walk in the park. We’ve got to take this seriously, no matter what our competition level’s going to be. We don’t know some of the teams coming up later on in the tournament. We just want to be aggressive in all aspects of our game.”
The Comets, who finished their season at 7-16, got five kills from Sasha Roberts, nine assists from Carolyn Lutz and 11 digs from Amanda Tucholski.
“I thought Fostoria played a really good match, which I knew they would,” Genoa coach Jillian Young said. “They have some good hitters and a good program overall. I think my girls did a pretty decent job in the first two sets of keeping up with them, then fell apart a little bit in the last set.”
The Comets led 5-4 in the first set before Settles recorded five kills and a stuff block to help Fostoria build a 19-10 advantage.
“She’s amazing,” Young said of Fostoria’s 5-foot-9 standout. “She’s fun to watch play. She’s a great player overall and she still has another year to go. It’ll be exciting to see how she does next year.”
Baleigh Robinson dropped in a pair of tips and served for a pair of aces in the second set as Fostoria grew a 4-2 lead to 16-7. The Redmen upped the lead to 23-12 before finishing off the set.
A Settles kill and a spate of Genoa errors helped FHS run out to a 9-0 advantage in the third set. The Redmen upped the count to 18-2 and didn’t see their advantage cut to less than 12 points the rest of the way.
Lotycz acknowledged being concerned before playing a tournament match against a team Fostoria had already beat twice in league play.
“I think any team, any day, can be beat,” she said. “No matter how talented you are, it’s about the team that wants it and shows up. I tell the girls every day, ‘Don’t take things for granted.’ You never know who’s doing to show up. You never know what might happen. You have to give 110 percent. You only have one chance out there and you have to give it your all.”
Robinson finished with three aces for Fostoria, which also got 11 digs from Mary Harris.
SERVING: Mary Harris 19-19, Dakota Thomas 9-9, Zoe Rice 18-19. ACES: Baleigh Robinson 3, Tyriana Settles, Meredith Grine & Thomas 1. KILLS: Settles 25, Harris 5, Grine, Robinson & Alex Talley 3. SPIKING: Settles 44-51. ASSISTS: Thomas 40. SETTING: Thomas 76-78. DIGS: Harris 11, J’Breonn Jones 10, Thomas & Rice 5. BLOCKS: Grine 2, Settles & Talley 1.