Wauseon started out a little slow in the first set but took control after that, winning 25-18, 25-9 and 25-18 Tuesday in a Division II volleyball sectional semifinal versus Lima Bath.
What worked for the Indians during the match according to head coach Nik Encalado was their new lineup rotations they put to the test.
“We went in actually yesterday, we were like, ‘we’re gonna change this up and I think it’s gonna work out.’ And it did, it worked out well, our rotation,” noted Encalado. “I think that we’re much more effective on offense with it. Which is where we were really struggling — with the side out. We focused a lot the last couple of days in practice on our siding out percentage. How to limit the other team from going on runs.”
Despite trailing early on in the first set, the Indians took over in the middle of it and held a 19-14 advantage following two right-side kills from Jocelynne St. John-Fisher. This forced a timeout from Bath.
After the stoppage Wauseon extended its lead at 21-14 with a Johanna Tester left-side kill and a Bath hitting error.
The visiting Wildcats trimmed the deficit to five (22-17) as Claire Foust scored from the middle and Brooke Van Horn blocked one for a point. St. John-Fisher answered for Wauseon, but then the Indians committed a hitting error.
Tester and Claire Armentrout traded kills to keep the margin at five, 23-18. However, the Indians clinched game one on an infraction by Bath plus Ella Hageman’s ace.
For Wauseon, Tester, just a sophomore, was a force all night from the outside. Her rocket from the left side put them ahead 11-4 in game two, causing the Wildcat coach to call timeout again.
“We moved Johanna to the outside this season for the first time. Last year she was a middle for us. She has come a long way hitting out there; hitting that out-of-system ball has really been our main focus for her. I think down this last stretch, this last week, and tonight especially, she has really progressed and we’re really excited about that,” said Encalado of Tester.
The second set was their most dominant. They closed on a 9-0 run for the 25-9 victory.
Senior Hayley Meyer had a run of five straight aces, and outside of that, four hitting mistakes by the Wildcats enabled the Indians to close it out and take a commanding 2-0 lead in the match.
“She’s a very aggressive server. I think she has 68 aces now on the season. Which is a lot, puts her up there as one of the top in the league in serving. We can always count on her to at least keep the other team out of system with her serve,” said the Wauseon mentor.
Wauseon held narrow leads in game three and got it to 18-12 after yet another Meyer ace plus a kill from St. John-Fisher. Later on Bath got within 20-17 thanks to kills from Maddie Fifer and Armentrout, however, they gave those back on a pair of hitting miscues.
Clare Farler’s two-handed push shot got it back to four (22-18), but Meyer recorded three straight kills to finish off the Wildcats.
Wauseon next travels to Celina to face the second-seeded Bulldogs in a sectional final Thursday beginning at 6 p.m.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.