Although not without some resistance from a stingy Holgate squad who refused to quit, the Wauseon volleyball team eventually grinded out a three-set sweep over the Tigers in the season and home opener Tuesday 25-10, 25-20 and 25-22.
Wauseon coach Bill Blanchong was encouraged by the performance of his young team.
“We only have four returning varsity letter winners, so, this was the other girls first taste of varsity,” he said. “I have a big team. So there are a lot of girls that hadn’t seen this stage yet. It was a really good opener for us.”
The Indians led the entire way in the first set, extending the advantage to 7-2 off a kill from Faith Weber. Then, after a point for the Tigers, Karli Penrod scored from the right side for Wauseon.
Holgate had a hitting error on the next point, Wauseon recorded a block, Carys Grime and Weber combined for a block, and a Tiger hitting error gave the Indians a 12-3 advantage. They would roll to the 25-10 first set victory from there.
“We are definitely a little bit taller in certain positions. And we keep working on blocking,” said Blanchong. “It’s not all just about height, but it’s about being able to push your hands over the net. Timing and all of that stuff.”
The Indians maintained a minimal lead in set two, then attempted to break away as a Holgate serving error, Maddie Trejo’s ace and a Tiger hitting error gave them a 15-10 lead.
However, the Indians then committed a serving miscue themselves, Grace Wenziger got an ace for the Tigers, Penrod responded with a block, and a Tiger serving error put it at 17-12. The two squads then traded points, but three straight Holgate errors extended the Wauseon lead to 21-13.
The Tigers answered with four straight points to bring them within four, then had a pair of hits go out to up the Indian advantage to six. A two-handed push from Holgate’s Cameron Hoellrich made it 23-18, then Grime’s kill put Wauseon at set point.
Hoellrich added a kill from the right side and Wauseon had a hitting error, but a Tiger miscue gave the Indians the set.
Wauseon had big leads in the third set but the Tigers refused to go away.
Up just 10-8 early on, a pair of Tiger errors and an ace for Maddy Martinez, Lexi Sauber’s tip at the net, and Penrod’s hit off a block pushed Wauseon’s lead to 15-8.
Holgate got three of the next four points to pull them within four, but a serving error and a ball hit out of bounds kept the Indians up 18-11. The Tigers kept fighting as a Wauseon net violation and two aces from Kameron Kupfersmith brought the margin down to four.
Later in the set and still down by four, the Tigers scored three straight to cut it to one. First it was Wenzinger who pounded a kill from the left side, then Hoellrich added an ace and two Indian serving errors made it 23-22.
“I give Holgate a lot of credit. They definitely didn’t give up at all, and they hustled and they made us work for it,” said Blanchong. “That’s what I told the girls, I’m like if you’re going to win on varsity you’re going to have to earn it. It doesn’t matter who you play.”
Wauseon would finish it as Sauber fired a kill from left and Jen Sanders’ kill gave them both the set and match.
Grime went 12 of 13 for Wauseon with five kills and five blocks, Sauber went 22 of 24 with eight kills and four blocks, and Weber was 18 of 22 with four kills and six blocks.
Wauseon remains at home Thursday when they host Hicksville.
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010