SHERWOOD — In a matchup between a pair of Northwest Ohio Athletic League rivals, Swanton got the better of Evergreen 25-20, 25-7, and 25-22 in a Division III volleyball sectional final played at Fairview High School Wednesday night.
The Bulldogs did not look their best at all times, and even trailed 22-17 in set three before firing off eight straight points, but in the end they did enough to earn the sweep.
“Anytime you have a chance to move on to districts it’s a pretty good feeling,” said Swanton coach Kyle Borer. “Three sets, to come back in the third set there was nice to finish that off. Not going four, because, you don’t want to give opportunities away and give them a chance to come back and get another set.”
The Bulldogs and Vikings were tied 12-12 at one point in the first game, before Swanton took over. A Maddie Smith left-side kill, two Sofie Taylor aces, and a Morgan Smith kill in between gave the Dogs a 22-14 advantage.
Evergreen responded by scoring six of the next seven points. Three of those came on Lyla Nash kills from the left side, while Swanton also committed three errors during the stretch, pulling the Vikes within 23-20.
Nevertheless, two straight hitting errors by Evergreen halted their momentum and gave the set to Swanton.
Swanton built an 11-4 lead in game two, then later on a pair of Sofie Taylor aces and Maddie Smith’s kill from the middle got it to 17-5. The Vikes would manage just two more points the rest of the way in the lopsided second-set victory for the Dogs.
“We had a set like that against them the first time (in the league match), where we pretty much dominated like that offensively with our serve,” stated Borer. “They weren’t getting much to swing at. When we’re keeping them out of system and (they are) just scrambling to get the ball over, we’re gonna use that hopefully to our advantage. And we did that whole set. We were clicking on all cylinders that set which is nice to see.”
The two teams traded leads in the early going of set three, but then Evergreen grabbed a 13-11 advantage and also led at 14-12. On the ensuing point, Taylor set one up for Maddie Smith to spike for a kill, notching her 3,000th career assist in the process.
With that accomplishment she joins an exclusive club. Only Taylor and seven other girls in the history of Ohio high school volleyball have reached that number.
However, Evergreen continued to battle. Haley Johnson recorded a left-side kill, Addison Hill’s dig found the floor for a point, then a Bulldog error extended the Viking lead at 17-13.
They eventually bumped the difference to five (21-16) on a Lucy Serna block. Swanton’s Katlyn Floyd and Nash traded kills from the left side, putting the margin at 22-17.
The Dogs closed out the third game and the match on a 8-0 spurt. Four of the final six points — including the final two — went down as Lillyanna Valderas aces. The Dogs also got kills from Peighton Manning and Morgan Smith down the stretch, while two Viking errors helped their cause as well.
“She’s got a good serve,” noted Borer of Valderas, who recorded 10 digs, seven aces and four assists in the match. “It’s usually got a lot of drop at the end. She puts a little speed on it and it usually drops toward the end. She found a spot that was successful, obviously keeping them out of system and give us some aces.”
The Dogs were led in the match by Floyd who finished with 13 kills and eight digs. Maddie Smith notched 11 kills for the Dogs. Morgan Smith chipped in 10 kills, while Taylor had 33 assists, 10 digs and eight aces.
Swanton takes on top-seeded Fairview Monday at Otsego in the first of two district semifinals beginning at 6 p.m. They will be looking to get revenge on the Apaches from a loss they suffered to them at home on Sept. 15.
“We had them at our place earlier in a three-set match that we didn’t play our best game,” Borer said. “Again, stuff like tonight where we weren’t ourselves hitting the ball. Just unforced errors that piled up against them.
“We didn’t play our best game, but they’re a good team. We’ve got to be prepared for everything they’re gonna present to us. They’ve got two really good hitters that we got to be ready for and just make smart decisions. The team that executes the best is gonna win that game.”
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.