STEUBENVILLE - The Big Red girls are the queens of the court.
For the second time this season, the Big Red and Catholic Central volleyball teams battled it out for citywide bragging rights. In the end, Tuesday night's matchup inside the Crimson Center turned out to be almost identical to the one played earlier in the season at Catholic Central.
The Crusaders won the first game to take the early advantage, but the Big Red girls rallied to win the next three games to win the match, 20-25, 25-22, 25-17, 25-19, to claim the city championship.
AT THE NET — Catholic Central’s Madeline Gulan prepares to block a tip by Steubenville’s Annie Nehrbas during Tuesday’s match in the Crimson Center, won by Big Red 20-25, 25-22, 25-17, 25-19.
-- Aaron Petchal
"It's the city rivalry," Big Red (10-6) head coach Lynn Meyer said. "The girls were pumped up. The girls all know each other. They play against each other in other sports, and they play together in the summer."
Big Red won the first match between the rivals, 20-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-15, on Sept. 11.
"We lost. I am sick over it," Catholic Central (8-6) head coach Sherri Barber said. "We couldn't serve or return serve. The first time we played we couldn't hit. We have to put it all together. This match was identical to the first one."
Individually for Big Red, Abby Taylor tallied 12 points, seven kills, 30 assists and 13 digs. Taylor Young ended up with eight points, 19 kills, 14 assists and five digs and Mytia Barker recorded 19 points, eight aces, six kills and 12 digs.
Brittany Bodo collected two points, five kills and four digs; Annie Nehrbas scored eight points to go along with 13 kills; and Carmie Biasi contributed five points and 18 digs.
"We usually split," Meyer said. "We played them three times last year. We won two of three, but we didn't sweep them."
Individually for Central, Robyn Runkle contributed 62 sets, three kills, two digs, one ace and 18 points; Monica Fischer recorded five kills, four blocks, two digs and one ace; and Monica Rigaud delivered nine kills, three blocks, two digs, one ace and 11 points.
Megan Lloyd tallied two kills, 70 sets and eight points, Maddy Gulan added seven kills, two digs and 22 points and Taylor Bednar produced three kills and three blocks.
Kamy Belardine collected eight digs and 12 points and Logan Colabella finished with two kills.
"We talked about how we didn't want them to serve more than three points in a row," Barber said. "We didn't let them in the first two games, but then they started to go on runs.
"It's frustrating. There's no doubt about it."
Big Red scored the first three points of the opener, but Central fought back. The game was tied multiple times. The Crusaders were able to gain some breathing room with a late push. Big Red was forced to call timeout with Catholic Central out in front, 22-19.
The hosts scored the next point to cut their deficit to two points, but the visitors ran off the final three points of the game to win Game 1 by five points.
"We were surprised by their tipping," Meyer said. "They were tipping a lot, but we adjusted well. Carmie, Mytia and Brittany adjusted to their tips well. Gulan was hitting well on the outside, but again we adjusted well and we covered well.
"All eight kids who played for us tonight played great defense. We picked up a lot of balls. We picked up balls we have never picked up before.
"Everything is positive. The girls are on Cloud 9.
"We played excellent Saturday. We played excellent last night. We played excellent tonight. We are peaking at the right time."
Big Red tallied the first four points of Game 2, but the Crusaders collected seven of the next eight points to take a 7-5 advantage. Big Red called a timeout with the Crusaders leading, 10-8.
Big Red battled back to take a 17-16 lead and an eventual 22-18 advantage. Big Red increased its lead to 24-19, and they were able to withstand a late charge by the Crusaders to win the second game.
"This week is key for us for the OVACs," Meyer said. "We beat Beaver Local last night. We beat Catholic Central tonight, and we play East Liverpool on Thursday.
"This week is major for us and we have stressed that to the girls. We have got to be focused this week and next week if we want to make the OVACs.
"That was our goal at the beginning of the season. We wanted to make the OVACs, and we wanted to have a winning record. We are working on that.
"We are trying to stay positive. Everything is positive right now."
The Crusaders scored the first two points of Game 3, but Big Red scored the next four to go up 4-2. Later, Big Red led 6-3, but Catholic Central came back to tie the score at 6.
Big Red countered and the Crusaders were forced to call timeout with Big Red leading, 16-9. Big Red went on to extend its lead to 23-10.
The victory was a big one for Big Red as far as the OVAC standings go. Big Red is currently in fourth place in Class 4A behind Oak Glen, Meadowbrook and Martins Ferry. Edison's victory Monday night at Martins Ferry was a big help for Big Red in their quest to qualify for the annual conference tournament.
"It's always intense," Meyer said.
The cutoff date for volleyball is Oct. 5. The tournament will be held Oct. 12 at Big Red.
"It would be fantastic if we were able to play in the tournament here," Meyer said. "We have only won one OVAC banner. It is hanging up in the back. It has arrows going to it, and there is a sign saying, 'Do you want this again?'
"Suzanne Govey-Allen was the coach when we won it. That was back in 2005."
Catholic Central is seventh in the standings in Class 3A. The Crusaders won the Class 2A tournament title the last two years.
"We are excited," Meyer said. "We are pleased with how well the girls are playing together. We are excited. The girls are doing things right, and they are doing things well."
Central is scheduled to return to the court today at home against Jefferson County rival Toronto.
"We have a busy week," Barber said.
"We play Toronto tomorrow, and we play at home Thursday against Conotton Valley."
Big Red's next match is Thursday night against East Liverpool at the Crimson Center.
The freshman match will start at 4:30 p.m., and it will be followed by the JV match which will be followed by the varsity match.