Lions Sweep Cougars in State-Ranked Showdown
October 15, 2021 by Haley Adams

Coming into the matchup, the Lake Catholic Cougars were ranked third in the state of Ohio, while the host NDCL Lions came in at No. 5. The Cougars sat undefeated in the Crown conference, putting them in first place, while the Lions came in fourth, posting a 2-3 conference record.

Coming into the matchup, the Lake Catholic Cougars were ranked third in the state of Ohio, while the host NDCL Lions came in at No. 5. The Cougars sat undefeated in the Crown conference, putting them in first place, while the Lions came in fourth, posting a 2-3 conference record.

But the Lions were welcoming back to their starting lineup Nebraska Cornhusker commit and Team USA representative Caroline Jurevicius, a junior outside hitter.

To start the match, it was all NDCL. With a combination of hitting errors from the Cougars, an ace from middle blocker Alana Bartulovic, and a block set up by Jurevicius and Caitlin Cvikovic, the Lions jumped out to a 6-1 lead.

After a 5-0 run, the Cougars found themselves back in rhythm with help from Jessica Wilson, who recorded a solo block at the net.

They were exchanging points back and forth before the first timeout was called by the Cougars and head coach Kara Oster, a 2013 graduate of Lake Catholic, at 15-9. Out of the timeout, outside hitter Mia Schaefer found the back line for a kill, and a much needed point for her team.

Another run was provided behind a balanced offensive attack of setter Eva Wheeler and outside hitters Ava and Caroline Jurevicius. Ava, who is just a freshman, stepped into a big role for the Lions, when her sister left to train with Team USA in Mexico. Now the two share the same court, and goal in mind.

Caroline is a huge inspiration for me to play around, and learning off of her accomplishments is a huge honor,” Ava Jurevicius said.

After a 6-0 Lions run, their opponent would call a timeout at 20-10. Out of the timeout, middle blocker Ava Budrys Rini got a kill to go down, and the Cougars trailed 20-11.

The Cougars would push NDCL to five set points before the Lions took the first set 25-17, Wheeler finding the middle of the court for a kill.

We came into this match not wanting to make it such a big thing, and not bringing emotions into it,” Wheeler said. “It is just a game at the end of the day, and whoever is going to work hard and put it all out on the floor is the team that is going to win.”

NDCL started the second set with an 8-1 lead before Oster called her first timeout of the set. Two kills Caroline Jurevicius would record in the run, while her teammates, middle blocker and right side hitter Cvitkovic and Lauren Janosy, combined for two blocks in the run.

Finally, a net violation from the Lions would stop the bleeding for the Cougars.

When asked what areas of the game were working for the Lions, Bartulovic praised her team’s serving game.

Our serving was aggressive, and we’ve been working on that for a while now,” Bartulovic said. “Our serves are not just aggressive, but we make sure that they stay in, that they get over the net, and they are in the spot where we need them to be in.”

Coming into the match, the Lions had recorded 133 aces, compared to 114 service errors.

Lake Catholic wouldn’t go away quietly in the second set either. Behind seven set points, head coach Tom Ray, in his 15 years at the helm, watched his team take a commanding 2-0 lead after a 25-16 set two victory. To close the set, the Cougars went on an 8-1 run.

Lake Catholic earned the first point to start the third set with a kill from Kyra Walnsch.

Early in the third set, both teams traded points and found themselves tied at five. A couple blocks from the Cougars helped slow the offensive threat of Jurevicius and the Lions’ big hitters.

Late in the third set, coach Oster called her first timeout of the set to try to push the Lions to a fourth set, while her Cougars trailed 18-20.

A kill from Caroline Jurevicius forced Lake Catholic to call its second timeout at 22-23.

Free volleyball would be played after a service error by the Lions on match point, and middle blocker Budrys Rini capitalized on the free point, recording a kill off the block.

Things were tied up again when Jurevicius recorded another kill, giving her 18 on the night, and setting up match point for the second time. A kill off the block from Janosy would give her team the lead, and the match.

The Lions took set three 26-24 and the match 3-1.

Winning put the Lions at 10-5 overall and 3-3 in the conference. On Oct. 12, the two teams squared off again, this time at Lake Catholic. If the Lions can take game two against the Cougars, it would be the first test passed for their chance at states.

It would mean the world to me,” Caroline Jurevicius said. “That’s ultimately my goal, winning a state title with my sister and bringing a championship back home to my family, the school and the community. That would be the coolest thing.”