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VOLLEYBALL: Bandel's 24-kill performance leads Oxford past Seaholm

BIRMINGHAM — There's always something particularly frustrating in sports about knowing precisely what's coming, but being unable to stop it.

By the halfway point of Tuesday's Oakland Activities Association Red Division match, Birmingham Seaholm had no issue identifying the trouble it was experiencing against Oxford. The matter of preventing it was proving next to impossible.

Oxford senior Darien Bandel was racking up kills at a dizzying pace, as the Maples struggled to set up a sufficient block to keep points off the board for the Wildcats.

In total, Bandel tallied 24 kills on the night to help Oxford collect a four-game victory over Seaholm, 25-14, 17-25, 25-21, 25-20.

"Darien played very consistent tonight, not only in the front row but in the back row as well," Wildcats coach Kristi McDevitt said. "She's stepping up and being the player we need to be. She's a weapon and we're going to keep using her until someone can find a way to shut her down."

With her team holding a two games to one lead, Bandel, an Oakland University commit, took her game to a new level in the fourth frame, recording 10 kills to help power Oxford through several tense moments as the teams toggled back and forth on the scoreboard. The force of her spikes from the outside routinely prevented Seaholm from even getting a finger on the ball before it slammed to the court.

The match ended on an illegal touch by the Maples, whose late timeout calls could only do so much to slow down the Wildcats' aggressive pursuit of the necessary 25th point.

"Oxford has a great outside hitter who was tough to stop and we're still trying to figure some things out (defensively)," Seaholm coach Heather Lippert said. "They just played better than us."

The Wildcats (20-12-4, 2-0 OAA Red) made a habit of falling behind early in each game, trailing 5-2 to the Maples every set before clawing back into contention.

"I think we were just trying to get things together and sitting back thinking what would come at us instead of saying, 'Alright, we're going to go after this team,'" McDevitt said of the slow starts. "We were on our heels a little bit and it would take us a little bit to get going. Usually it just takes one (big play)."

Oxford used a 10-0 scoring run to pull away for a game-one victory, as Seaholm's lineup of mostly younger players had trouble cutting off the Wildcats' momentum.

The Maples bounced back to capture game two, leading nearly from start to finish for a 25-17 decision.

Game three featured many tie scores, with the teams playing up to 18 aside before Oxford scored six of the next seven to seize control and eventually close out the match in four games.

Also making significant contributions for the Wildcats were Julia Walker (10 kills), Regan Precour (22 digs) and Kennedy Orr (20 assists).

"I'm just happy with how well we covered the floor and how we keyed in to their big hitters in the front row to kind of shut them down," McDevitt said. "We just really executed the game plan well tonight."

Sophomores Annie Schechter and Lauren McLeod led the Maples (17-8-1, 1-1 OAA Red) with 16 and 11 kills, respectively. With just four seniors on the roster, Lippert said her team will require further time to develop cohesiveness and gain experience. After a trip to last season's Class A quarterfinals, the Maples were hit with inevitable graduation losses to a substantial portion of their roster.

"We still have work to put in. Our league is just starting now. Last year we started in September, so we had played more matches by now," Lippert said, noting the unusually late start to OAA Red play this season. "They're taking strides and they're learning, but they're sophomores. This is their first varsity experience."

Last Updated: 10/8/2013 9:59:57 PM EST

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