Swanton tops Wauseon in league volleyball opener


Swanton’s veteran presence proved to be too much as the Bulldogs bounced back from a nine-point loss in the first game to defeat Wauseon 16-25, 25-10, 27-25, 25-23 in the NWOAL volleyball opener Tuesday at Wauseon.

“I knew Wauseon was gonna be tough coming back from last year. A lot of experience (returning),” said Swanton coach Kyle Borer after the match. “With Lexi Sauber in the middle, she’s got some power with her. And coming over here for our first league match. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. They had a big crowd, they (the fans) were loud. For some of my younger players, that’s a little nerve-racking for them. So, after that first set we just had to settle down.”

“We had a really, really good gameplan coming into this match,” noted Wauseon mentor Bill Blanchong. “And the girls executed it perfectly in game one. Then game two, we didn’t execute it at all. Which is why you had the total flip flop (of score). And then the rest of the match was an incredible match. We tried to match hit for hit, serve for serve, pass for pass. They ended up (winning) by two balls both game three and game four.”

Following a Julia Smith kill to get Swanton within two at 15-13 in game one, Wauseon scored 9 of the next 10 points to take control.

The Bulldogs had a hitting error, Wauseon’s Kelcy Blanchong collected a pair of aces, and Jen Sanders fired a shot off a Swanton block attempt before another Smith kill ended the Indians’ run. But not for long, as Karli Penrod answered with a kill from the left side and Maddie Trejo scored on a two-handed push. A Swanton error and back-to-back Lexi Sauber kills made it 24-14.

Swanton would get a couple more points before Sauber finished them off with a shot down the middle.

The Indians tried to hang close in the second set, but the Bulldogs eventually pulled away.

Cydney Christensen got them started with consecutive kills, then the Indians had a pair of shots go out of bounds, Swanton answered with two points – the second an ace by Smith, and Sydney Zirkle’s kill for Wauseon put it at 14-7 in favor of the Dogs.

Swanton later ballooned their lead to double digits where they ended up winning by 15 to even the match at one game apiece.

“The second set we limited our poor passing on serve-receive,” said Borer. “Our hitting errors. I mean, I don’t know how many hitting errors we had the first set but it was an abundance of them. Then we just played. And the result was totally different.”

Wauseon led by as much as four late in set three before Swanton battled back.

The Indians were at game point, 24-23, after a Bulldog miscue, but Swanton’s Sidney Taylor got a two-handed push to fall and a Wauseon hitting error gave the Dogs the advantage.

A Swanton serving error re-tied the score, but Christensen’s kill from the left side and a Wauseon infraction ended it.

“If you get that third set then you guarantee a game five no matter what,” said Blanchong on the importance of winning game three. “And honestly, I thought that’s the way tonight was gonna go. I thought it was gonna go five games.

“But yeah that third game was critical. We had a 21-17 lead I remember. And we just, we gave away a couple of points. We had too many unforced errors at critical moments.”

Down 24-19 in the deciding fourth game, the Indians looked to come back as they rallied off four straight. A Swanton error, an Indian ace followed by Sauber’s shot through a block, and a Bulldog shot that traveled too far made it 24-23.

However, Taylor finished them off with a strike from the outside.

Swanton next hosts Delta in non-league action tonight. Wauseon is off until Thursday, Sept. 7 when they travel to Evergreen.

Indians finish off Blackbirds

At home the night before as well, and after going back-and-forth through four games, Wauseon came out on fire and took a lead it would not relinquish to finish off Pettisville 23-25, 25-12, 22-25, 26-24, 15-8 Monday.

“They are a very good team and they are very well coached,” Wauseon coach Bill Blanchong said after the win. “We definitely had to play hard to beat them tonight.”

The Indians held off a couple Pettisville rallies in the fourth game to set up the deciding final game of the night. Wauseon took advantage and jumped on top early, starting with a kill by Jen Sanders, going through a Pettisville block.

Lexi Sauber, who gave Pettisville trouble much of the night with her length at the net, added three kills in the early run as Wauseon led 5-2 before the Blackbirds took a timeout.

“That’s huge, those points go by really fast,” Blanchong said of jumping out to the big lead in the final game. “It’s very critical. I told the girls every point matters.”

When play resumed, Wauseon was still in full control. Sydney Zirkle went across the length of the net for a kill, Sauber added a block to end a rally, and Maddie Trejo served up a pair of aces to stretch the lead to 9-2. At that point, Pettisville called its final timeout of the game.

“They came out a little more ready than us in the fifth set,” admitted Pettisville coach John Horning. “We dug ourselves a hole.

“That’s tough and I thought Wauseon played really well,” Horning added about the fifth game. “Again, they’ve got a nice group.”

The Birds did get on the board at that point on a kill by Jess Youse, but they couldn’t put together a run. The two teams traded points the rest of the night, with Karli Penrod delivering the final blow in a 15-8 win.

Outside of the second game, the lead seesawed between the two teams most of the night. In the opening game, Pettisville rallied late to grab the opening win. Trailing 23-22 after Wauseon scored on a Penrod point and Maddy Martinez’ kill, Pettisville battled back after a timeout. Wauseon hammered a kill long, then after tying the game, Youse got a block to stay in play for the winning point.

“The first game was really competitive,” mentioned Horning. “I liked how we finished. They came out ready to play in the second set and we didn’t.”

The second game took a different tone as the Indians got ahead early. Sauber got Wauseon started, then finished with a kill as the Indians cruised to the 25-12 win.

The third game looked more like the first as Pettisville again needed a late rally. Down 20-18, Morgan Leppelmeier got the Birds going with a kill, then Kendal Pursel fired three aces in a row to put Pettisville ahead. Wauseon came back twice to hang around, but Pettisville had enough at the end to put the Indians away. Youse came up with points before and after a Wauseon timeout to win the game 25-22.

“As a coach, you don’t know what’s going to happen after laying an egg in that second set,” Horning said of getting the win. “I was so proud of them – and their determination – the whole set. To finish it in a quick burst, I think we got Wauseon’s attention a little bit.”

“That’s to Pettisville’s credit,” Blanchong said of the Birds battling back. “It goes back to every point matters. You don’t want it to be 24-24. I thought the girls handled themselves really well. We kept our composure in the fourth game to force the fifth game.”

Wauseon was able to battle back and earn a win in the fourth game. Again, coming down to the wire, it was the Indians who played the better volleyball. Starting tied at 21 after a timeout, Wauseon made the first mistake with a ball in the net, but Pettisville made the next three miscues and Wauseon was a point away from winning at 24-22.

The Indians did have a long kill to give the serve back to Pettisville, and the Birds responded with an ace from Ryeana Klopfenstein. With the game tied again, the next Pettisville serve went long and Sanders tipped the next ball over the net for Wauseon’s game-winning point.

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Karli Penrod of Wauseon, right, shoots a ball through a Swanton block during Tuesday’s match. The Indians fell to the Bulldogs in four sets.
http://www.fcnews.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/45/2017/08/web1_Penrod-shoots-1.jpgKarli Penrod of Wauseon, right, shoots a ball through a Swanton block during Tuesday’s match. The Indians fell to the Bulldogs in four sets. Max Householder | Fulton County Expositor

Swanton’s Abby Arnold serves one up in the league volleyball opener Tuesday.
http://www.fcnews.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/45/2017/08/web1_Arnold-serve-1.jpgSwanton’s Abby Arnold serves one up in the league volleyball opener Tuesday. Max Householder | Fulton County Expositor

Wauseon’s Lexi Sauber with a kill from the right side against Swanton.
http://www.fcnews.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/45/2017/08/web1_Sauber-from-right-1.jpgWauseon’s Lexi Sauber with a kill from the right side against Swanton. Max Householder | Fulton County Expositor

By Max Householder

mhouseholder@aimmediamidwest.com

Randy Roberts contributed to this article

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