by Michael Leonard
Stow -- A ton of history was on the line when Hudson met Kent Roosevelt in the Stow-Munroe Falls Division I volleyball district final Oct. 24.
Although the match pitted the district's top two seeds against each other, the top-seeded Lady Explorers were looking for their first regional berth since 1996.
As for the Rough Riders, they were seeking the first regional berth in school history.
Hudson will move on, but Kent made the Lady Explorers work for it.
Hudson won the title in straight sets, but the Rough Riders made them work extra time in the last two. Hudson won 25-18, 26-24, 29-27.
The Explorers improved to 19-6 and advanced to the Division I regional semifinals, which is set to take place at Hudson's Ray "Buck" Hyser Gymnasium. Hudson is scheduled to play Wadsworth, which defeated the Lady Explorers in straight sets earlier in the season, Oct. 30 at 7:30 p.m. The Lady Grizzlies earned a 25-21, 25-17, 21-25, 25-16 win over Medina in the Barberton district final.
Kent finished the season at 22-3. Hudson was without one vital component Oct. 24, albeit for a good reason. Head coach Jessica Ciborek missed the match as she gave birth to her first son the previous evening.
That left assistant coach Annie Pinegar in charge of the Lady Explorers, but Pinegar said her squad was ready.
"Jess and I have prepared them all season for this and they were ready to go," she said.
"I said to worry about ourselves. We needed to be able to make transitions quickly. We needed to serve well and receive well."
The big girls had big nights for both teams. Junior middle hitter Mackay led Hudson with 14 kills and two blocks, while senior middle hitter Krissy Mummey finished with 12 kills, six blocks and 14 service points.
Also contributing for the Lady Explorers were sophomore setter Amanda Przybocki, who had 34 assists, and junior back-row players Sarah Young and Gina Holland, who each had eight digs.
Meanwhile, senior Cortnee Bowser led all players with 15 kills, along with three blocks and five digs, while sophomore Sophi Cudworth had seven kills.
The first set saw the Lady Explorers take command early, though Kent brought it back to an 11-11 tie.
However, Mummey and Mackay started pounding away late in the set.
Hudson scored seven of the set's final eight points and won the first set when the Rough Riders were called for a double hit.
Kent took the initiative in the second set, leading 16-14 midway through.
However, the set came down to the wire, as a Bowser killed tied it a 23-23.
Mackay and Bowser then traded big kills to make it 24-24. However, Mackay then killed it again and a Mummey kill off the bump gave the Lady Explorers the second set.
Mummey said her teammates relished the challenge of playing a Kent squad that matched the Hudson in terms of height.
"We knew we were going to be in a lot of battles, but we were looking forward to it," Mummey said. "We knew were going to get blocked a few times, but we know other players were going to step up."
Mummey was on fire early in set three as the Hudson fans chanted "MVP! MVP!" every time she touched the ball.
The Lady Explorers led 16-10 in the third before Kent rallied all the way back.
A kill by Bowser gave the Rough Riders set point at 24-23.
Kills by Mackay and Mummey gave Hudson match point at 25-23. However, two straight passing errors gave Kent another set point at 26-27.
Mummey smashed home a kill to make it 26-26 and a kill by senior outside hitter Celia Cristofoli gave Hudson another match point at 27-26.
Bowser answered with a kill to tie the set at 27, but the Lady Explorers finally ended the match with a tip kill from Mummey.