To paraphrase Swanton coach Kyle Borer, the target is on the back of the Bulldogs as they have a one-game lead in the Northwest Ohio Athletic League volleyball race. Despite a stingy effort from Archbold, Swanton moved to 5-0 in the league after a 25-18, 25-23, 25-19 home win on Tuesday.
“There were times in all three sets where we looked really sharp. We were passing the ball (well). Getting quality swings,” explained Borer after the match. “There were times there were no blockers up and we were getting free nets. So, you know you’re running your offense smoothly when that’s happening. But then there were other times where we were a little sloppy with our passing. Whether it was serve-receive or just in our defense.
“Moments like that, we just got to clean it up, refocus, and get back to what we were doing to be successful. Other than that, I thought we played a pretty quality match.
“One thing that I told the girls coming into this match, when you’re coming up against a (top team in the league), go after them,” said Archbold mentor Jill Holdgreve. “Do what we do best and then play smart. We don’t have to be stronger, we just have to be smarter. I just felt that they had a couple more smarter plays than we had.”
Swanton built a 5-0 lead in the first set with the combination of a Julia Smith kill, an ace by Alexis Sarvo, and three Archbold errors. A pair of Swanton hitting errors got the Blue Streaks a little closer, but Sidney Taylor’s kill from the left side, Cydney Christensen’s spike down the middle, and an Archbold error bumped it back to 8-2.
Blair Bucklew of Archbold and Christensen traded kills, then a Blue Streak miscue, Smith’s shot off a block and a Bulldog blocking error put Swanton up seven, 11-4. They would maintain that lead throughout and cruise to a seven point victory.
The second set was back and forth when the Bulldogs seemed to take control as Christensen’s shot down the middle and a pair of points from Smith put their lead at 23-17. However, the Streaks battled back.
Brooke Aeschliman shot one through a Bulldog block attempt, there was a Swanton error, Brittani Becher of Archbold got a kill from the right side to make it 23-20. A Smith kill put it at game point. The Streaks scored three in a row to make it 24-23 on Aeschliman’s shot that found a hole, a Bulldog miscue, and Taylor Miller’s strike that just caught the back line.
But, rather anticlimactically, an Archbold serving error gave the Dogs a 25-23 win and a two-set advantage in the match.
Archbold led often in the third set, and after an Abby Arnold ace for Swanton broke a tie at 14, the Streaks fired back one last time.
Elee Kammeyer’s strike down the middle, a Bucklew ace, Aeschliman’s tip, a Bulldog error and a combined block from Aeschliman and Macey Rupp put them up 19-15.
“I got on them a little bit as far as focusing and getting back to the basics. As far as body position on passing and executing our offense,” said Borer of the third set. “When we were getting good passing, we could mix it up offensively and be a little diverse with where we were attacking the net.”
Much like the end of the second set, an Archbold service error got the Dogs back on track.
The error made it 19-16, then three more Blue Streak hitting blunders and Taylor’s left-side kill put Swanton ahead and they did not look back from there.
“Archbold’s no slouch,” said Borer. “They are a solid team. They’re experienced and they’re well coached. They are gonna battle (until the end). That’s what it was.”
Smith was 24 of 29 hitting for Swanton with 16 kills and three blocks. Christensen went 19 of 22 with 15 kills and six digs.
Aeschliman paced the Streaks with five kills, 10 digs and four blocks. Marli Cheney also had five kills for the Streaks.
Swanton (14-1, 5-0 NWOAL) is at Edgerton on Saturday.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010