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by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
Hudson -- One team appears to be hitting its stride. The other looks like it's going backwards.
The final results certainly showed that Hudson might be peaking and Cuyahoga Falls is regressing on the volleyball court.
The host Lady Explorers improved to 6-8 overall and 4-6 in the Suburban League National Conference after posting a convincing 25-18, 25-18, 25-12 victory over the Lady Black Tigers.
The match took place Sept. 29 at Ray "Buck" Hyser Gymnasium.
Hudson took command in the middle of the first two sets and completely dominated the third set.
By the time Falls (6-11, 1-9) got its feet wet in the third set, the Lady Explorers had a 7-0 lead.
The Lady Black Tigers made numerous errors throughout the match, which led to Hudson spurts throughout the evening.
While the Lady Explorers don't have the record to show for it, they may have found their rhythm as the final stretch of the regular season lurks.
"We have really struggled when it comes to closing out sets," Hudson first-year head coach Brad Disandis said. "I thought we did a much better job [Sept. 29], especially in that third set."
Falls made things a bit interesting in the second set.
At one point, the set was tied at 14.
But the Lady Explorers won the next four points to stop the Lady Black Tigers' momentum.
In a matter of minutes, all the momentum Falls gained vanished into the night.
Hudson sophomore libero Kendall Mackay closed out the first set with five straight service points.
"We have been working on our offense in terms of connecting with our setter," Disandis said. "We've done a lot of situational things in practice.
"We had a tendency to lose focus and give up five or six points in a row."
The Lady Black Tigers could relate. Whenever they got close, the Lady Explorers always had an answer.
And when Hudson got a little rally going, Falls fell apart.
"It's kind of the same thing over and over," Falls head coach Josh Stewart said. "We're having a hard time finding that fight or confidence or whatever it might be. We need to find a way to make plays when they're needed."
The Lady Explorers' top player certainly did.
Six-foot-2 middle hitter Alena Madar was unstoppable wherever she was throughout the match.
She finished with 15 service points, including three aces, 14 kills, and three blocks.
"Alena really stepped up," Disandis said. "She is always in early working with [junior setter] Lorenza [Chiarappa]. When Alena plays well, it opens things up for everyone else."
Junior outside hitter Dani Turner added 12 kills, five digs and one block and Chiarappa contributed 26 assists, six digs, three blocks and three kills for Hudson.
Also faring well for the Lady Explorers were Mackay (23 digs) and junior defensive specialists Nina Disandis (18 service points, including three aces, and nine digs) and Maddie Gaeta (17 digs).
Senior outside hitter Emma Freeman led the Lady Black Tigers with 10 kills and sophomore libero Morgan Frame finished with 23 digs.
Junior setter Rebecca Postlewaite had nine assists and two aces and junior outside hitter Emina Celic finished with three blocks for Falls.
Brad Disandis also had high praise for junior outside hitter Madison Topczewski, who made things happen on both offense and defense for the Lady Explorers.
"I thought Madison was really effective," Disandis said. "She kept the ball alive during long rallies."
Hudson lost to North Royalton 25-21, 25-20, 25-21 in a National Conference showdown Sept. 27 on the road.
The Lady Explorers were up 21-17 in the third set.
Madar led Hudson with 15 service points, including three aces, 14 kills and three blocks.
Nina Disandis finished with 18 service points, including three aces, and 10 digs and Turner had eight kills, five digs and one block for the Lady Explorers.
Also contributing for Hudson were Regina Alvarez (six kills and a block), Mackay (15 digs) and Chiarappa (26 assists).
The Lady Explorers are scheduled to visit National Conference foe Stow-Munroe Falls Oct. 4 at 6:30 p.m.