Archbold put Swanton in an early two games to none hole, and although the Bulldogs dug deep to come back and win game three — and led for a majority of game four — in the end the Blue Streaks came out on top 25-18, 25-14, 21-25, 25-21 in Northwest Ohio Athletic League volleyball Tuesday night.
The Streaks entered the contest looking to put the drama of last week to bed, when initially it was ruled they had used an illegal lineup in the fifth set against Liberty Center during the Sept. 13 match and had to forfeit. But ultimately the OHSAA overturned the ruling and Archbold was declared the winner.
“We are one team. There’s not one person who wins or loses it. We are one team, and it was our redemption tonight. So we had a whole week to think about it and that’s what we came out to do was redeem ourselves,” said head coach Debbie Culler.
For Swanton, they simply could not recover from the mistakes they made.
“We started off from the get-go making mistake after mistake,” noted Bulldog mentor Kyle Borer. “Against a team that can come at you from multiple players, hitting the ball like they can, you can’t make those mistakes. Especially when they’re mental mistakes.”
Swanton battled back from an early deficit to tie the first game, 14-14. But from there Archbold would score seven of the next eight points.
At the tail end of that run a Bulldog hitting error, Keely Culler’s shot from the left side, and Olivia Liechty from the middle extended the Blue Streak lead to 21-15. Later on, Ella Bowman dunked one down the middle and a Culler ace handed the Streaks a 25-18 victory in game one.
“We have some good finishers,” explained Coach Culler. “Our middles did a great job putting the ball away. And Chaney (Brodbeck) and Keely on the outside did an excellent job pounding that ball. It makes it hard to defend when you have that many hitters.”
“Serve-receive we struggled with right away. We knew what they were going to do. What kind of serves they were gonna present to us. We knew where their offense was gonna come from. And, we just didn’t make the adjustments all night that we had to,” said Borer of his team’s struggles.
Archbold continued its momentum into game two. They jumped out to a 15-4 advantage and never really wavered, rolling to a 25-14 win and a 2-0 lead overall.
However, it was the Bulldogs turn to reclaim some good fortune in the third game. Each team held leads but it was Swanton who emerged on top last.
The last points in the set for the Streaks were Culler’s left-side kill and an ace from Aubrey Eicher, giving them a 21-18 edge.
The Dogs scored the next three points, the latter two being Morgan Smith’s ace and an Archbold error to knot it at 21. The Streaks then committed three more errors, followed by a Swanton block that got the Dogs on the board with a 25-21 victory.
“We were passing the ball better,” said Borer on how they were able to take game three. “We were forcing them into some off-speed stuff and not as aggressive on offense. We were serve-receiving better and we were more aggressive hitting. We talked about in timeouts, ‘we have got to be more aggressive.’ But at the same time, we had to have better ball control in the first two sets — which we didn’t. And that’s what was slowing down our offense, because we weren’t hitting the ball as aggressively because we weren’t in system.
“It was too little to late for the most part. And we didn’t have everybody play hard all night — and that’s what the disappointing part to me was. That we didn’t do our job consistently throughout.”
Swanton held leads in the fourth set as it seemed as though they were destined to take it to a fifth. But Archbold had other plans.
Trailing 16-12, the Streaks got a left-side kill from Miley Gericke, Culler found a hole in the Bulldog defense, and a Swanton hitting mistake brought the Streaks within 16-15 and forced a timeout from Swanton.
They later managed to tie it at 17, and again at 18, before eventually taking over. A pair of Brodbeck kills with one from Bowman in between gave Archbold a three-point edge, 21-18.
Following another Bulldog timeout, the Dogs were able to score two of the next three points via Archbold errors, then Lillyanna Valderas’ ace pulled them back within one (22-21).
However, the Streaks fired off the next three points and closed out the match. Liechty’s block, a Brodbeck ace, then an error from Swanton sealed it.
The match was viewed as a big one going in as both teams were seen as being the cream of the crop in the NWOAL. Archbold fed off both the magnitude of the match, and the atmosphere in the gym that coincided with such a match, all night long.
“We did have a good student section and cheering crowd. The girls enjoy that. The energy gets our girls pumped, so it’s a good thing. What got us a little bit in that third set was a couple passing errors. But they got right back onto it. So I’m super proud of them,” Coach Culler said.
Archbold (8-1) is in the driver seat for a league title at 4-0 with three NWOAL games remaining. Swanton falls to 3-1 in the league and is 12-2 overall.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.