Archbold eventually pulled away 25-16 in what was a back-and-forth first set for much of the way, then the Blue Streaks cruised to 25-9 and 25-7 victories in games two and three as they swept visiting Wauseon Thursday in Northwest Ohio Athletic League volleball.
The defending co-league champions continue to roll, improving to 6-0 on the year and 2-0 in the league.
“Our team is gelling,” said head coach Debbie Culler. “Every girl has each other’s backs. They are working as a team. And when you have as many multiple threats as we do at the front row, it makes it hard to defend us. I’m just gonna say, from the beginning to the end, you could just see how their confidence grew and it’s because of a team effort.”
In game one, the Streaks were able to gain a 21-15 advantage over the Indians late in the match on Addi Ziegler’s serving. Wauseon’s Cameron Estep snapped the mini Blue Streak run with a shot from the left side, but Archbold then scored the next four points to close it out.
A Wauseon error, a combined block from Ella Bowman and Carsyn Hagans, then a solo block by Hagans and another Indian error gave the set to the Streaks, 25-16.
The Indians, who have been dealing with Covid issues that forced the two teams to cancel the freshman game, could do nothing but tip their cap to Archbold after the match.
“They are a very, very good team,” said Wauseon first-year coach Nic Encalado. “They do a lot of good things. A lot of things the right way. It’s been a tough week. I was optimistic, but you know, the last three days especially have killed us. We’ve lost at least a girl from each team due to quarantine — every single day the last three weeks. So it’s been tough not being able to get into a rhythm this week with practice.”
Although early on in the second game it was tied 2-2, the Streaks then went on a 13-3 run to take control.
Bowman’s shot down the middle, an Olivia Liechty ace, Ziegler’s two-handed redirect and a Bowman tip at the net put them ahead 6-2. A Blue Streak hitting error and Jazmin Barajas’ ace got the Indians within two, but Archbold scored the next six.
Wauseon’s blocking error, then three straight Blue Streak points — one via an Indian miscue —made it a 10-4 advantage in favor of the Streaks.
As this was going on, the Archbold student section and fans roared thunderously.
“I think our girls handled it well at the start. But I think over time, it’s just constant, constant, constant (cheering) with them (the Archbold fans). Over time it started to wear on them a little bit, mentally,” said Encalado on his girls having to deal with the crowd noise.
Later, a Hagans kill from the right side made it 13-5 to force a timeout by Encalado. Out of the timeout the Streaks scored the next two and eventually cruised to a 25-9 win.
“Our passing,” said Coach Culler on the key to her team gaining control in the match. “The very first 10 points of that first set, our passing wasn’t perfect. And then it started turning into the three-point passes, and it’s hard to beat us then.”
Archbold opened up a 6-0 lead in the third game. Chaney Brodbeck had their first two points, then the Indians committed an error, Liechty scored down the middle, Brodbeck fired an ace and Keely Culler’s left-side kill produced the early lead.
Keely Culler, a freshman, was a major factor in the third set. She had 11 kills and two blocks on the night.
“She did a great job tonight. She did a great job with being a finisher,” said the elder Culler of her daughter. “I’m very proud of her, she was hitting their angles, she was reading the court, and it made a big impact tonight.”
Bowman led the Streaks with 12 kills and three blocks. Hagans added six kills, while Ziegler finished with 35 assists and four aces.
Archbold next welcomes Delta on Tuesday. Wauseon (1-1 NWOAL) resumes league play at home versus Bryan Tuesday.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.