Birds fly past Bombers in sectional final

By Joe Blystone - For the Expositor

Pettisville extended their domination over Buckeye Border Conference teams into the Division IV sectional tournament Thursday by beating Edon in straight sets 25-15, 25-9 and 25-13 to claim a sectional title and advance to the district tournament in Defiance.

Edon took an early 5-3 lead in the first set on Shaylee Manahan’s kill through a Pettisville block.

Back-to-back Teagan Kauffman shots from the left side knotted the score but the Bombers reclaimed a 7-6 lead when Olivia Radabaugh went cross court, and held a 9-8 lead on Kaitlyn Sonnenberger’s ace.

That’s when the Birds went to work, especially in the form of Morgan Leppelmeier.

The 5’8” freshman went through an Edon block attempt to tie the score and after a Bomber attack went out, she hammered home a shot from the left.

After Katie Kauffman scored on a crossing shot from the right, Leppelmeier added a third kill, pounding a first ball kill through the Bomber defense to increase the lead to 13-9.

Edon closed to within 14-12 but Teagan Kauffman had consecutive scoring shots from the left side to go with Jess Youse’s bomb from the middle and a solo block by Claire Foor to take a 19-13 lead.

Amber Klopfenstein scored twice and then the set clincher off an Edon block.

Pettisville’s serving then became a forceful weapon in the second set when Katie Kauffman scored two of the Birds six second set aces, giving Pettisville an early 3-0 lead.

After a Blackbird hitting error, Youse went to work in the middle, scoring two or her five second-set kills on a solo block and a resounding slam in the middle to help boost the lead to 6-1.

Leppelmeier scored an ace as did Carly Bontrager, Stephanie Hubby and Katie Kauffman again as Pettisville rolled to a second set win.

“Serving has been a strength all year for us,” said winning coach John Horning. “We’ve got some really aggressive servers, and we live and die a little bit with some misses here and there. But when they are in, they are tough to receive and it really makes teams work defensively. There are certain girls we’re going to go at each night and when you go at them it gets the other team out of their system. So our serving was good and I thought our net play and blocking, everyone did a great job.”

Youse took control of the third set scoring on a first ball kill twice and a solo block, and after Klopfenstein gave the Blackbirds the lead for good at 8-7, the 5’10” sophomore scored again, twice off Edon block attempts to raise the lead to 12-9.

“She was a stud tonight,” exclaimed Horning. “She played really, really well at the net.”

From there Teagan Kauffman had four kills including one that painted the back line that bumped the score to 21-11 before Mallory Riegsecker’s second ball shot and Katie Kauffman’s blast sent the Pettisville following home happy with a sectional title.

Still, Horning said that the Birds have things they need to work on before their date with Antwerp tonight.

“We have to be more consistent in finding different spots on the floor when we attack. I think there’s times when we need to serve ‘in’ instead of serving aggressive, but if I had to give us a grade tonight, I would still give us an ‘A’.”

Horning also gave credit to playing a tough out of conference schedule to prepare for a tournament run.

“We started out tough! I mean Evergreen, (Cardinal) Stritch and Ayersville right away. Delta has a nice team. I mean our losses are to high quality teams and that’s OK. I don’t want to be undefeated at this point. I think we’re good where we are at and I think our tempo of play is good. Our defense was incredible tonight, so if we play defense, serve tough and own the net, we’re good.”

The Pettisville and Antwerp match is the nightcap at Defiance tonight, following the match between Hicksville and top-seeded, state-ranked and undefeated Ayersville.

By Joe Blystone

For the Expositor

Joe Blystone can be reached at [email protected]

Joe Blystone can be reached at [email protected]