The Swanton Bulldogs did something different in an away volleyball game at Delta Thursday.
After needing five sets to subdue each of their first three opponents, the Bulldogs got past the Panthers in four, 25-19, 20-25, 25-16, 25-16.
Swanton coach Kyle Borer summed it up in one word.
“Consistency,” he said.
“The first set we got the balls to the hitters really well, we were swinging really well with not many errors.”
A pair of Kinsey Finnen kills helped Delta to a quick two point lead, but Julia Smith brought the Bulldogs to even with back to back slams at the net.
Mary Miller rapped two points off Swanton blockers to regain an 8-6 lead for the Panthers before a series of hitting errors and questionable double hit calls, which hindered the flow of the match for both sides, gave Swanton a first set lead they never released.
Smith with a tip, Sidney Taylor with a pair of left side kills, and Cydney Christensen’s shot off a Delta block attempt put Swanton up 19-13 from where they coasted to the first set win.
As sharp as the Bulldogs were in the first set, they made almost every possible error a team can make on the court allowing the Panthers to an 8-1 second set lead.
A miscommunication that allowed a second ball to fall, Darian Elendt stuffed a Swanton overpass, a bad set, a service error, a hitting error and two Finnen aces in which the Bulldogs were flat-footed drew the ire of Borer.
“That second set I don’t think anyone was on the same page in the beginning and we never really caught back up.”
The Bulldogs got as close as 23-19 when a couple of Delta hitting mistakes and yet another double hit call chopped into a seven point lead.
Miller stuck a kill from the middle and Finnen scored off a blocker around a Panther net violation to give the second set to Delta.
The last two sets, however, Swanton left no doubt.
Christensen scored three times off blockers and another when she dunked an overpass to give Swanton a 9-5 lead.
Emily Clifton kept the Panthers close with a back row kill and an ace but four straight Delta mistakes including…you got it…a pair of double hit calls, gave Swanton a 14-8 lead.
Smith added a pair of mid-set kills around another Clifton ace to keep that six point lead, then Taylor scored on a tip, Smith nailed an ace and Christensen scored off a block attempt to end it.
The momentum the Bulldogs gained in the third set they carried into the fourth, taking an early lead on Deanna Herr’s left side kill and extended from that point on two Taylor aces, Christensen’s shot off the tape that rolled over, then a power slam from the junior hitter along with no less than 11 Delta mistakes that turned into Swanton points.
With the Bulldogs up 22-11, Clifton scored three aces on the Bulldog backline during a five point run that got the Panthers within six before Smith’s kill from middle restored some order and Cassie Kosier’s ace ended the match.
“We played a lot better tonight actually than we have previously,” said Borer. “Especially defensively. If we continue to do that we’re going to be a tough team to defend at the net.”
Swanton now hosts Stryker on Tuesday and Liberty Center in an NWOAL match on Thursday.
Reach Joe Blystone at [email protected]