On a night they had to win, Wauseon played some of their best volleyball of the season, taking a straight set win over league leading Evergreen 25-10, 25-17, 25-20 before an electric crowd at Wauseon Tuesday.
The win allowed Wauseon to pull into a first place tie with the Vikings and Bryan with one week left in the NWOAL season.
The pre-season favorite Indians can clinch a title tie by beating Swanton next Tuesday.
“We were very ready for Evergreen,” Indians’ coach Bill Blanchong said. “We had a scouting report and executed our game plan very, very well. We played very well, we have played this well in a couple matches this season. We were definitely on tonight.
“Now we have a chance for the first time in 25 years for Wauseon to have a share of a league title.”
After Kelsie Komisarek’s left side hit off a block gave Evergreen a 6-5 lead in the first, the Indians went on a 13-1 run spurred by an ace from Lexi Sauber that broke a 6-6 tie, and three more from Kelcy Blanchong.
“One of the things we wanted to do was serve, what we call seams,” Blanchong explained. “The girls did a really nice job.”
Sydney Zirkle’s trio of kills helped capped the run that put the Indians in control at 18-7.
“Sydney has really developed on the outside and has done a great job putting the ball in play, especially tonight,” explained Blanchong. “She made very few errors, which was really important in a match like this.”
Aces from Harlee Floss and Skylar Reckner around yet another Zirkle kill and a emphatic block from Sauber ended the first set.
Sauber’s shot from the middle, one down the sideline and another mountainous block kept Wauseon rolling in the second set at 9-1.
Another Sauber kill got the Indians to their biggest lead, 13-4, before the Vikings mounted a comeback.
Scores from McKenna Babcock and Claire Conrad cut into the lead at 13-6, then after Zoe VanOstrand’s sprawling dig of Sauber, Komisarek went back-to-back from the left side, Kori Kreuz scored a block and Savannah VanOstrand nailed a shot from the right to get Evergreen within 16-13.
However, the Indians went to their aircraft carrier, as Sauber blistered one from the left and then again scored a slam block to get the Tribe back up 19-13.
Sauber reached a milestone on the second point of the third set with her 1,000th kill of her Indian career and coupled with two more aces from Zirkle, created a 4-2 lead.
“I’m not sure that has ever happened at Wauseon,” Blanchong said of Sauber’s feat. “Nobody here remembers that happening before. Sometimes we almost overlook Lexi because we expect so much but what she has contributed to the team is phenomenal. I was really excited for her especially being on senior night.”
That lead continued to double on Maddie Trejo’s ace, and Chelsie Raabe’s solo block at 8-4, and was still doubled at 16-8 after Zirkle’s left side hit.
A number of attacks that went wide helped Evergreen keep in contact, then the Vikings got on a roll that included a pair of Kreuz kills and two aces from Komisarek to climb within 23-20.
Zirkle scored to make it 24-20 and then a Viking attack that, in a closer match would’ve caused an absolute uproar when it was called out by the Indian line judge, ended the match.
The winner of next Tuesday’s Evergreen-Bryan match at Evergreen will definitely grab a piece of the NWOAL crown, while all the Indians need to do is beat Swanton to share the title.
Reach Joe Blystone at email@example.com