Remember those “first times”?
First time riding a bike.
First time driving a car.
Kyle Borer’s Swanton Bulldog volleyball team experienced one of those “first times” last Tuesday night as they won their first ever Northwest Ohio Athletic League volleyball title with a 25-20, 25-16, 25-12 sweep of the Delta Panthers, capping an undefeated jaunt through the league.
“This is what it’s about,” said a jubilant Borer. “All the hard work during the summer. All the team camps we go to and summer and the competition we played. It wasn’t always pretty throughout the summer but that’s what it was for to help us get ready for this.
“I knew we had a lot coming back experience wise and to put it all together like this and finally do this after five years with this program, I’m at a loss for words right now. It’s really special obviously because we have never done this in school history in 40-some years, so these girls, they deserve it.”
The Bulldogs finished the regular season with a 21-1 record and ranked No. 12 in the final Division III state coaches poll.
Four Julia Smith kills, two more from Sidney Taylor and an Alexis Sarvo ace helped boost Swanton to a 10-5 first set lead.
Smith recovered from a bad set and then cupped a dunk at the net to extend the lead to 13-7.
Delta replied with an Abby Freeman ace, Brooklyn Green answered Smith’s cup dunk with one of her own, and Kinsey Finnen got hot scoring from the left and the middle over and over to get the Panthers back within 20-19.
But a Delta serve was long, Sarvo scored another ace and Taylor’s sideline push regained control for a first set Swanton win.
Delta jumped up 7-3 early in the second on a number of Bulldog hitting errors, Reagan Rouleau’s kill and a push from Brooklyn Wymer.
However, the Panthers returned the favor four times around a Cydney Christensen shot down the sideline to get the Bulldogs even, in which Christensen got Swanton on top, re-adjusting at the net for a score to make it 9-8.
Christensen added two more kills, Sarvo and Abby Arnold added aces as Swanton extended from that point to take an error-filled second set.
The third set started out the same way the second finished.
Madi Nadolny’s kill, two more and an ace from Finnen were wasted by six Delta errors as the Panthers led just 7-6.
Christensen brought the Dogs even with a slam from the middle which started a 7-0 Swanton run where four more Delta hitting or passing errors around Smith’s solo block and middle hit gave Swanton a 13-7 lead.
Taylor’s crosscourt angle push from left to right at the net, yet another Sarvo ace, Smith’s dunk of an overpass at the net then a kill off Olivia Williams’ dig of a Panther attack all but knotted the package of the Bulldogs first league volleyball title.
More still looms on the horizon though as Borer explained.
“We still have work to do though. We have Northwood in the first round of the (OHSAA Division III) tournament, then we have a tough one with Otsego and they are a pretty good team in the NBC (Northern Buckeye Conference), so yeah we have to get ready to go. We didn’t click on all cylinders tonight for the first set or so.”
Swanton’s sectional semifinal match against Northwood is at home tonight beginning at 6:30 p.m. If victorious, they would be back home against Otsego Saturday at 7 p.m.