In the third meeting of the year for the two Northwest Ohio Athletic League foes, Swanton grinded out wins three of the four sets in a 25-22, 25-19, 19-25, 25-15 win over Delta in a Division III volleyball sectional final Monday at Swanton.
“Playing a team for the third time in the season, as the team that won the previous two, you’re not exactly excited about that,” said Swanton coach Kyle Borer. “Because, first match it was three pretty close sets. Second match it was five. This time of the year you never know what’s gonna happen and who’s gonna be ready to go. It was nice playing on the home court again.
“We knew how they played last time against us. (We knew) they were gonna play scrappy defense. Again, we had some good swings, we just weren’t getting the ball on the floor. Then finally some holes opened up. We were keeping them out of system enough for us to take advantage of — especially in those first two sets.”
“We knew it was going to be a tight game because during the regular season we went to 5 with Swanton,” said Delta coach Heather Carrisalez. “They have a good team and match up well against us. We fought hard to come back a couple times and I am proud of them for that. They didn’t give up.”
There were six lead changes in the first set with the Bulldogs finally taking control late.
Delta held a 20-18 lead when a Katlyn Floyd shot down the middle and Sophie Taylor’s right-side kill knotted the score. The Dogs scored the next three points as well on a Panther error, Trista Eitniear’s middle kill, and Brooke Dockery’s ace.
The Panthers got two back to pull within a point, thanks to a Bulldog serving error and Reagan Rouleau’s ace, but Swanton closed it out after a Delta blocking error and Floyd’s ace.
Swanton led by as many as seven in game two before Delta mounted a comeback.
The Panthers went on a 6-0 run to tie it at 19 all.
Following an Avril Roberts kill for the Dogs, they then committed two straight errors — one on a serve and the other on a ball in play. Brooklyn Wymer’s left-side kill for the Panthers, plus three straight Khloe Weber aces knotted the score.
However, the Dogs fired back with a 6-0 run of their own.
They went ahead on a Delta error and Emma Operacz’ ace. Two left-side kills from Floyd around another Operacz ace, plus a Panther error gave the second set to the Dogs, 25-19.
Despite being down early, the Panthers ripped off a 10-4 rally in the middle of game three to take the lead. It ended after Rouleau’s shot from the left, extending the difference to 16-13.
Then, after a Rouleau running spike made it 19-15, Swanton got back in it on a Panther error, Floyd’s ace, a block credited to Roberts, and another Floyd ace. Delta broke the tie at 19 on Braelyn Wymer’s right-side kill and Brooklyn Green’s shot down the middle.
Four straight Bulldog mistakes handed the Panthers the 25-19 victory, slicing Swanton’s lead in the match in half at two games to one.
“The third set was our set because we made adjustments and the girls were determined,” explained Carrisalez. “Our serves were aggressive and our passers stepped up so we could do some work at the net. We adjusted our blockers and played together by talking and moving more.”
“We just made way too many errors,” stated Borer of the third set. “I don’t know how many hitting errors we had. But, we were hitting the ball all over the place. One set we had like five missed serves. We weren’t doing our job, mentally sometimes, in that third set especially.”
Swanton got back on track in the fourth set, jumping out to an early lead and never looking back.
They led 4-0 on kills from Morgan Smith and Roberts, as well as two Panther hitting errors. Green got Delta on the board with a middle kill, but Roberts and Dockery answered on back-to-back plays for Swanton. The two teams would go back and forth the next four points, until a Delta error and Dockery’s block made it a 9-3 Bulldog advantage.
Swanton would only build their lead from there, taking the fourth set 25-15 and the match 3-1.
“Just maintain our focus. Because we let a run go (in the third) based on our own mistakes. Just play a little more error-free and communicate better,” said Borer on what the focus of his team was heading into the final game.
Although the Delta season has come to an end, their coach is overall pleased with the effort her girls showed this season.
“These girls have played hard in every game this year,” said Carrisalez. “I tell them to leave it on the court and because of COVID we never knew if it would be our last game. Last night was our last game but I can’t say enough about this group of girls and their work ethic.”
Swanton next faces second-seeded Lake on the road Wednesday at 5 p.m.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010