In three tough sets, including a third set in which they had to come back down 11-4, the Evergreen volleyball team was able to outlast Pettisville 25-22, 25-21 and 25-18 on the opening night of the 2015 season Monday in Pettisville.
It may not have been the prettiest played game by either team, but the Vikings were able to overcome some early jitters to emerge victorious.
“We were really tense, really up tight. Our movements were very robotic. Nothing was very in sync,” said Viking head coach Kelsey Wulf. “I think John (Horning) from Pettisville would probably say the same thing. It didn’t really look like a good volleyball match.”
“I thought our girls played very hard and gave great effort,” said Pettisville coach John Horning of the Birds’ performance. “Kelsey always has nice teams at Evergreen and I thought they hurt us with a strong serve receive game and they were quicker at the net than we were.”
In the first set both squads had leads at one point, and after a Blackbird hitting error allowed the Vikings to knot the score at 15, Pettisville built its lead back up.
Morgan Leppelmeier’s shot from left made it 16-15, then Claire Foor’s strike down the middle and a Viking miscue put the score at 18-15 and drew a timeout from Wulf.
After the stoppage a Pettisville serving error followed, then back-to-back points by Evergreen, the second a kill for Kaela Fauble, knotted the score. Pettisville’s Anya Kauffman responded with a kill down the middle, but consecutive points for Fauble gave the Vikes the edge at 20-19.
A Blackbird hitting error led to a timeout for the home team, but after the break another hitting error pushed the Vikes advantage to 22-19. The two squads traded points, however, Jess Youse got a block kill for Pettisville and a Viking hitting error brought them back within one.
The set came to a close when Evergreen’s Eden Eisel scored on a hit down the middle and Alyssa Noe followed with an ace.
In set number two the Vikes held the lead, and after a Pettisville time with the score at 17-12, consecutive Blackbird errors pushed the Viking lead to 19-12. Leppelmeier’s shot from the left side, an Evergreen hitting error and Fauble’s kill once again made the margin five.
An Evergreen hitting error followed, then Haili Mossing responded with a two-handed kill but a Viking serving miscue made it 21-17. Another Viking error and Leppelmeier’s point cut the Pettisville deficit at two.
Kills by Noe and Eisel around Kauffman’s block for the Birds made it 22-20, but Eisel’s strike down the middle and a Noe ace put Pettisville on the verge of defeat.
After a Blackbird point, Eisel’s shot down the middle closed out the second game and put Evergreen up 2-0.
“In the second set our blocking really came through,” said Wulf. “We had quite a few blocks to throw them off their game.”
Pettisville got two points each from Youse and Leppelmeier to help build an 11-4 advantage in the third set.
However, a timeout in that stretch by the Vikings helped them to get back their momentum.
Mossing began the Viking rally with a shot from left, Kori Kreuz got a one-handed tip over and Jamie VanLoocke’s ace pulled the Vikings to within 11-7. The Blackbirds then had a hitting miscue and Mossing a kill from left before Mallory Riegsecker’s kill for Pettisville ended the Viking run.
Fauble responded with a shot down the middle, but Leppelmeier answered for Pettisville to keep the margin at three, 13-10. The Birds could only manage one point out of the next five and three kills for Eisel, and one each for Fauble and Kreuz knotted the score at 14.
Pettisville quickly took the lead back after a Viking hitting error, however, an Evergreen point and another by way of a Blackbird miscue gave them their first lead of the set, 16-15. Back-to-back Noe aces, Youse’ strike down the middle and a Bird miscue made the margin 19-16, Vikings.
Pettisville’s Teagan Kauffman and Fauble then traded points, but a Blackbird miscue gave the Vikes a four point lead. A Fauble block-kill and a Blackbird hitting error made it a 23-17 Evergreen lead. Foor’s block-kill resulted in the Birds final point, whereas Fauble’s block and a Pettisville error ended the third set, giving Evergreen the win.
“When we had the timeout I just kind of said to them, this is it, you can either choose to play well or choose to play like how you are playing now,” said Wulf on what changed in the final set. “I told the seniors to pick it up, and they did luckily.”
“We were competitive in all three sets and we need to keep improving everyday to get a better push at the end of sets,” added Horning on his team’s effort.
Pettisville dropped to 0-2 on the season with a loss in three sets to Cardinal Stritch at home on Tuesday.
The Vikings were victorious at Maumee on Tuesday, winning in four sets. Game scores were 22-25, 25-14, 25-21 and 25-17.
Evergreen is next in action with their home opener on Monday against Ayersville. Pettisville is at Holgate on Thursday.
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010