DEFIANCE – Pettisville volleyball was resilient in their Division IV district final match against Ayersville at Defiance on Thursday, but after dropping a hard-fought first set by two points, the Pilots went on to complete the sweep of the Blackbirds 25-23, 25-17 and 25-15.
“They were in-system a lot which allowed them to run a quick and aggressive offense,” said Pettisville coach John Horning on the success of Ayersville. “We did get some touches at the net but not as many as we needed.”
Ayersville’s Molly Hammersmith notched eight kills, Kelsey Johnston another, and three Pettisville errors allowed the Pilots to jump on top in game one 12-4. However, down 19-12 later in the set, the Blackbirds showed their mental toughness.
Pettisville’s Jess Youse fired a kill from the right side, Teagan Kauffman scored on a shot down the middle, Kate Kauffman through a block, an error by the Pilots, Amber Klopfenstein’s tip, and Teagan Kauffman’s shot through a block around a Blackbird hitting error made it 20-18.
Ayersville’s Lauren Figley ended the run with a kill from the left side, but Teagan Kauffman answered from the left side and another tip from Klopfenstein made it just a one-point edge for the Pilots.
After a pair of Figley kills and a Blackbird error put it at game point, 24-20, Kate Kauffman responded with a strike down the middle and consecutive Pilot errors pulled Pettisville to within one.
Figley fired a kill from the right side to take the opening game, 25-23.
Ayersville opened a sizeable lead once again in the second set, using four Hammersmith kills and three aces to lead 13-4 in the early going.
“Ayersville starts with their best hitter in the front row and she has three rotations,” commented Horning on the Pilots’ use of Hammersmith. “We did struggle at the beginning of each set but I liked that we fought back and never quit.”
The Blackbirds were a thorn in the side of the Pilots in the later stages of game two, at one point scoring five of six points to force an Ayersville timeout with the scoreboard reading 24-17.
Down 23-12, Teagan Kauffman fired two kills from the left side, Pettisville’s Claire Foor scored from the right around a pair of Pilot errors and Hammersmith’s kill made Ayersville coach Julie Gustwiller call for the stoppage.
The timeout worked as Johnston scored from the right side out of the break to give the Pilots a 2-0 advantage.
The third set was tied on multiple occasions and with the score deadlocked at 13, a Blackbird miscue, an ace by Figley, and two more Blackbird errors put Ayersville in front for good.
The Pilots scored the final eight points, including four from Hammersmith to put a bow on their district championship.
“This group has come a long ways from the beginning of the season,” said Horning of his team. “A third consecutive perfect BBC season, district runner-up and a 19 win season – very proud and thankful for such an amazing, hard-working and dedicated group of young ladies. We had a great group of senior leaders which will be missed next season.”
Teagan Kauffman and Kate Kauffman paced the Blackbirds as each had eight kills. Teagan also added six digs while Kate had 12 assists.
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010