by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
Macedonia -- On the verge of winning a district championship last fall, the Hudson girls volleyball team saw things crumble quickly after one of its key players went down with an injury.
Fortunately, the stakes weren't quite as dramatic this time.
But Lady Explorer senior outside hitter Emily Warfield had yet another chilling fall.
Hudson fell to 0-2 overall and 0-2 in the Suburban League National Conference after suffering an 18-25, 25-21, 21-25, 25-20, 15-11 loss to Nordonia Aug. 30 in Macedonia.
The loss wasn't the only bad news for the Lady Explorers.
Warfield, who suffered a foot injury late in Hudson's loss to Walsh Jesuit in a 2015 Division I district title match, fell to the floor awkwardly in the second set.
Warfield needed assistance to leave the floor and did not return.
"It looked like Emily twisted her knee," first-year Lady Explorers head coach Brad Disandis said. "She has had some history with it."
Warfield's injury put a dent on a highly competitive, thrilling match where the momentum swung 180 degrees several times.
Hudson appeared to be in control in the early stages before the Lady Knights stormed back. The Lady Explorers seemed to regain the momentum before Nordonia settled things in the end.
"It was a great match," Disandis said. "They [the Lady Knights] played well. They are well coached. We couldn't stop their one hitter."
That "one hitter" was sophomore outside hitter Megan Alders, who finished with a match-high 24 kills, 14 digs and an ace to lead Nordonia (2-2, 1-0).
"We're very young," Lady Knights head coach Andrea Ciavarelli said. "Megan is our only experienced hitter."
Despite the twists and turns, Ciavarelli kept her cool the entire match.
The Nordonia third-year coach said that was by design.
"You can't yell at young kids," Ciavarelli said. "I'm a firm believer that the players react to you. What is most important is gaining the experience. Win or lose, it was great for them to get court time."
With the score tied at eight in the decisive fifth set, Nordonia, thanks mainly to the stellar serving of freshman outside hitter Maddy Knight, scored the next five points.
Knight served four straight service points during the run.
The Lady Explorers scored the next two points, but Nordonia prevailed on a Hudson hitting error on match point.
"I think we learned how to play with some adversity," Disandis said. "[Junior right-side hitter] Kara Schurman came in for Emily and I thought she did a phenomenal job. She passed well. It's another growth opportunity for a bunch of young girls."
Junior setter Faith Banks had 39 assists, eight digs, two aces and two blocks for the Lady Knights.
Senior libero Alexis Perney contributed 27 digs and two aces and Knight finished with 14 service points, including four aces, and six kills.
Senior middle hitter Alena Madar led the Lady Explorers with eight kills and seven blocks and sophomore libero Kendall Mackay finished with 16 digs for Hudson. Junior setter Lorenza Chiarappa had 25 assists for the Lady Explorers.
Hudson junior defensive specialist Madeline Gaeta was moved to the front row during the latter stages of the match.
Gaeta certainly didn't look out of place. She finished with seven kills.
"I thought Maddie really stepped up and played well," Disandis said. "She passed well."
The Lady Explorers lost their first 10 matches last year before finishing strong. Hudson doesn't want to wait that long before it gets its first win in 2016.
At the same time, though, Disandis knows it will take time for his team to learn the ropes of playing together.
"We need to be better at executing under pressure," Disandis said. "We had that spell where was lost four straight points in the fifth set.
"We need to work on some defensive positioning. We seemed to get beat on the longer rallies."
Disandis certainly wasn't disappointed, though. He knows his team gave everything it had.
"I thought they really hustled," Disandis said. "It was an incredible effort."
Hudson is scheduled to visit National Conference rival Cuyahoga Falls Sept. 6 before returning home to play National Conference foe Stow-Munroe Falls Sept. 8 at Ray "Buck" Hyser Gymnasium. Both matches are set to begin at 6:30 p.m.
The Lady Explorers are set to host the Hudson Quad Sept. 10. Play is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.