Looking as if they were going to roll to a three-set sweep of rival Archbold at home Tuesday, Wauseon survived a loss in game three and despite trailing in game four, they bounced back for a 25-13, 25-17, 21-25, 25-20 win in Northwest Ohio Athletic League volleyball.
The Indians improve to 4-1 in league play with the win, while the Bluestreaks drop to 1-4.
“To beat an Archbold team, you have to beat them,” said an unsurprised Wauseon head coach Bill Blanchong. “You definitely have to make sure that you continue to make plays. Their hitters really came alive in games three and four. They stopped making errors, and they really were hitting the ball hard.”
All signs pointed to a winner-take-all fifth game when Archbold opened a 12-7 lead in the fourth set. A total of four Wauseon errors, plus an Olivia Smith shot from the middle gave the Streaks a five-point edge.
“We needed to answer (their run). And we gave away too many points in a row,” said Blanchong of his team’s struggles later in the match. “You can’t do that in volleyball.
“They (Archbold) always play Wauseon tough. Wauseon/Archbold, I don’t care what sport it is, I don’t care what your records are, it’s gonna be a great match.”
Archbold maintained their distance for a while longer, then the Indians began to chip away.
With the score at 17-13, Wauseon’s Chelsie Raabe scored on a shot from the middle, Archbold committed a hitting error, and Sydney Zirkle scored for the Indians to pull them within 17-16. Zirkle finished with 16 kills and five blocks.
“Sydney has really been improving for us,” said Blanchong of the junior. “She is a very, very strong outside hitter for us. And she performed tonight. We needed her to win the match tonight.”
The Indians eventually tied it at 19 apiece after a Bluestreak error, and went ahead 22-19 with a pair of Maddie Trejo aces and another error from the visiting team.
Following a Wauseon error, Sauber fired off three straight points – including two aces at the end – to give her team the match.
Both Sauber and Zirkle were key in the run that sparked the Indians’ 12-point win in the first set. Trailing 10-8 to the Streaks, Sauber had five kills and Zirkle four as part of a 13-0 run to give Wauseon the advantage, 21-10.
“Lexi Sauber’s gonna be a great hitter. We knew that coming in,” said Archbold mentor Jill Holdgreve. “I told the girls, you need to let her get her hits and kind of get past it. She’s gonna make those.
“But, she got on a roll there for a little while and we weren’t able to stop her. That’s what good players are gonna do to you. Felt like we came back after that set though, got refocused, and kind of shut her down a little bit better than what we did in that first set.”
Wauseon pulled away for an eight-point win in game two, but the Streaks refused to go away. A total of eight Indian miscues, plus aces from Blair Bucklew and Marli Cheney of Archbold, and Kayla Boettger’s shot from the left helped them to a 13-5 lead in game three.
“I just told them not to be afraid,” said Holdgreve on the message to her team prior to game three. “You just got to go out, (if you make mistakes) you gotta make the mistakes doing them the right way, instead of making mistakes because you’re trying to make improper hitting and what not around their blockers. You’ve got to put them on their heels and let them dig a little bit. And I think that we did that (in games three and four). We started bringing the ball short a little bit, and then took it long again. I thought that was a benefit for us.”
However, the Indians twice pulled to within three to force a Bluestreak timeout, the last with the margin at 22-19.
Bucklew and Trejo exchanged kills for the two squads, before a pair of Indian errors gave the set to the Streaks.
Wauseon was also home Monday night where they swept Stryker 25-20, 25-12, 25-21. Sauber finished with 14 kills, five blocks and 25 digs, Zirkle added nine kills and seven blocks, and Delanie Roush five kills.
Wauseon (14-4, 4-1 NWOAL) is off until a match at Lake Monday. Archbold (3-11, 1-4) visits Kalida Thursday.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010