As is often the case in a Northwest Ohio Athletic League volleyball match, there were multiple swings in momentum; however, Wauseon ended up on the winning side of all three sets as they took down visiting Delta 25-13, 25-17, 25-21 Tuesday night in the league opener.
The Indians were the most threatened in game three as the Panthers led for much of the way until the end. Wauseon first-year coach Nic Encalado rotated some girls in off the bench for the beginning of the set, which could have been a factor in the change in momentum.
“I like putting them in situations to see how they react. See how they battle through a little bit of adversity,” Encalado said. “We went down early, and I didn’t want to use a timeout, I wanted to see if they were gonna stay together or they were gonna kind of start being more individual players on the court. Very happy with how they pulled through; they stayed as a team. It’s something that we’ve been preaching since the start, is, no matter what, we always have a chance to win.”
Delta led by as much as 8-3 early on behind a pair of left-side kills from Alyesa Brown and a Gretchen Culler block. They clung to the lead late (20-18) following a Wauseon serving error and Jessica Erd’s kill.
However, the Indians scored the next four points — three coming from Cameron Estep plus Aaliyah Glover’s ace — to take a 22-20 lead. After a point from Delta’s Sydney Churchill, Wauseon responded with three straight, the last a left-side shot by Estep that closed it out.
“She’s been phenomenal so far this year,” said Encalado of Estep. “She was actually just nominated today for Ohio High School Athlete of the Week in the state by MaxPreps. She carries a big load, but she does it well. And, I think she strives, and she thrives most when she’s in those gametime moments and she needs a big play — or the team needs a big play from her. I think she feeds off that more and more, and gets better and better the tougher the situation is.”
In the first set, the Indians broke open a tight game by scoring the final eight points for a 25-13 victory. Marisa Seiler’s serving and more kills by Estep spurred them down the stretch of game one.
A pair of Delta errors and a Seiler ace gave Wauseon a 16-9 advantage in game two. Culler broke the run with a kill, but two Estep kills and a Glover ace in between extended the lead even further.
“We need to clean up our defense and move to the ball better,” stated Delta Coach Heather Carrisalez. “Our blockers have to get better on timing and lining the block up. We made little mistakes so we just need to clean up some things.”
Wauseon went on to take that game 25-17.
“I think they do a really good job of staying focused on one goal. Not letting the momentum shift them one way or the other. You know I wish sometimes we would use it (our momentum) a little bit more. But, I don’t think that we let it hurt us no matter how much momentum’s on the other side. I think that’s really gonna benefit us (later in the season),” said Encalado of his team being able to pull out each set versus the Panthers.
Wauseon now has nine days off before resuming league play with a match at rival Archbold on Thursday, Sept. 9.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.