DELTA – In a highly anticipated match between two of the top volleyball squads out of the NWOAL, Delta swept Swanton on their home court, 25-21, 25-14 and 25-17 Thursday night.
With the win, the Panthers got revenge from a four-set defeat the Bulldogs handed them in a non-league contest back on Sept. 3.
“Delta was the more aggressive team at the net,” said Swanton coach Kyle Borer. “In the end, the more aggressive team won the match.”
The first set seemed to be a huge momentum swing for Delta as they fought off a late rally by the Bulldogs for the win. Down 16-13, Swanton’s Cydney Christensen scored on a tip at the net, Claire Leidigh pounded through a block, and Leidigh and Sidney Taylor combined for a block to knot the game at 16.
Mistakes by both teams, along with a Leidigh kill from the left side tied the score at 18. Christensen broke the tie for Swanton with a pair of kills, giving the Bulldogs a two-point advantage.
Delta’s Jenni Davis drilled a shot from right and a Swanton error made it a 20-20 game. The Panthers followed with a serving error, but scored the next five points to take set one, 25-21.
Miranda Pelland’s shot from the middle tied it at 21, then Jessi Davis scored twice around a Bulldog hitting error, and McKinsey Finnen blasted a shot from left to end the set.
“I felt we started the first set a bit sluggish which concerned me after coming off our Tuesday night win against Bryan,” said Delta coach Kelly Finnen on the match. “We definitely picked up the momentum, serving aggressively and keeping them out of system most of the night, which in turn caused a lot of free balls or attacks that are easier for us to defend.”
Coach Borer agreed with this notion.
“We struggled at times in serve reception and we gave them too many free balls,” he said. “When you do that, teams with good hitters are going to put the ball away more often than not. We gave them too many opportunities to attack us too often.”
The Panthers were mainly in control in the second set, with their only hiccup coming in the middle of the game as the Bulldogs scored four of five points to cut their lead to 16-13. Taylor’s shot from the left side got it started, then a Swanton serving error, Leidigh’s shot from left, Julia Smith’s spike down the middle, and a Panther hitting error pulled the Bulldogs to within three.
Delta used a timeout, then recorded eight straight points, the last on a Mary Miller shot down the middle to put Swanton in a 24-13 hole. Smith responded with her own shot down the middle which ended the Panther run, however, Delta’s Darian Elendt blasted one from left to end the set and give her squad a 2-0 lead in the match.
The Dogs opened up a 4-0 lead in game three thanks to a Delta illegal hit, Smith’s block kill for Swanton, and two Panther hitting errors. But that lead quickly evaporated and the set was later tied at seven when Jenni Davis and Jessi Davis combined for a block to put the Panthers on top.
Pelland then fired an ace for Delta, Jessi Davis scored through a block, a double hit by the Bulldogs, Miller’s shot from right, and a Jenni Davis drive down the middle pushed the Delta lead to 13-7. They never again trailed as they went onto take the set 25-17, sealing the sweep.
(That) was a fun game for our girls, especially my four seniors, since it was their last regular season home game in the Jungle,” concluded coach Kelly Finnen.
“We got down on ourselves and lost energy on the court and you can’t do that in volleyball,” said Borer. “We will learn from this match and bounce right back.”
McKinsey Finnen paced the Panthers with 11 kills, six digs and four aces. Jessi Davis notched 13 kills, three blocks and seven digs, while Jenni Davis added nine kills and eight digs.
Leidigh had 10 kills and a pair of blocks to lead Swanton. Taylor added eight kills and six digs, while Christensen had five kills, six blocks and five digs.
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010