The stage was set for Archbold to capture the Northwest Ohio Athletic League volleyball title outright in front of their home crowd, but it simply wasn’t meant to be. The visiting Bryan Golden Bears, with a chance to grab a share of the crown themselves, did just that with a 25-20, 17-25, 25-15, 19-25, 15-9 win over the Blue Streaks Tuesday night.
With the Bryan win and Swanton’s victory over Evergreen, that makes it a three-way tie for the title between the Blue Streaks, Golden Bears and Bulldogs. They each finish with a 6-1 record.
“I’ll tell you, I’m very proud of my girls. They came out to play,” said Archbold first-year coach Debbie Culler after Tuesday’s match. “I’m just gonna (say) hats off to Bryan. They kept the aggression and the intensity when we could not. That’s what volleyball’s all about.”
In a match fitting of one where a league championship was on the line, the pendulum swung one way and then the other multiple times throughout the night. It seemed as though it would stay in Archbold’s favor after they grinded out a win in the fourth set and built an early lead in game five.
After Bryan pulled within two late in the fourth, the Streaks fired back with a 4-0 run. Chaney Brodbeck scored three straight times from the left side, then a Ella Bowman ace put it at game point, 24-18.
McKendry Semer converted a blast down the middle for Bryan but a Golden Bear hitting error ended it, sending the match to a fifth set.
A trio of Addi Ziegler aces plus a Bryan error pushed the Streaks out to a 4-0 advantage in the deciding set.
However, after a Bryan timeout, they answered with a 6-0 rally. Abby Fernihough started it with back-to-back thunderous kills, followed by an Archbold hitting error and Jordan Beck’s redirect to tie it at 4-4. Then, another Blue Streak error and Kloee Antigo’s shot from the left side put the Bears in front.
The set would be tied 7-7 later on; however, it was again Bryan that broke the stalemate.
First Fernihough fired one from the right side, then a Blue Streak miscue gave them a two-point lead. They extended it to 11-7 on a pair of blocks.
The Golden Bears’ size and blocking ability gave the Archbold hitters fits.
“That’s my hurdle I have with my hitters,” Culler said. “Because, you can bounce back from blocks. But if your hitter is worried about the block, again, it’s the mindset.”
A Bryan serving error got the Streaks back on the board, but they would follow that up with an error of their own.
After a Blue Streak timeout, Semer closed out the match for the Bears by scoring three of the set’s final four points.
“So I tell the girls you push to five. First one to five is gonna have the momentum,” Culler said of her opinion of fifth sets. “Guess what, we got to four. We fell short.
“You have to push for each and every point. And I do not feel that we pushed for each and every point tonight.”
The Bears came out strong and firing on all cylinders. They led game one by as many as 11 points and staved off the Streaks for a 25-20 win.
The opposite happened in the second game. Three Brodbeck kills and a bevy of Bryan errors helped Archbold during a 8-1 flurry in which they built a 23-14 cushion. They ended up winning by eight, 25-17, to knot the match 1-1.
The Bears returned the favor in the third set.
Clinging to a 13-12 lead, Bryan proceeded to go on a 9-1 run to pull away. Six of those points came on Blue Streak miscues.
The night wasn’t a complete downer for Archbold. Along with still being co-league champs, Ziegler was able to record her 1,000 career assist.
“She runs our court for us,” stated Culler on Ziegler’s accomplishment. “She’s done an excellent job. I can’t say enough good things about her. I’m super proud.”
Brodbeck paced the Streaks with 18 kills, while Hadley Galvan and Bowman each added 11. Bowman also chipped in two blocks. Leading the block department was Olivia Liechty with six.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010