The Swanton Bulldogs did something different in an away volleyball game at Delta.
After needing five sets to subdue each of their first three opponents, the Bulldogs got past the Panthers in four, 25-19, 20-25, 25-16, 25-16.
Swanton coach Kyle Borer summed it up in one word.
“Consistency,” he said.
“The first set we got the balls to the hitters really well, we were swinging really well with not many errors.”
A pair of Kinsey Finnen kills helped Delta to a quick two point lead, but Julia Smith brought the Bulldogs to even with back to back slams at the net.
Mary Miller rapped two points off Swanton blockers to regain an 8-6 lead for the Panthers before a series of hitting errors and questionable double hit calls, which hindered the flow of the match for both sides, gave Swanton a first set lead they never released.
Smith with a tip, Sidney Taylor with a pair of left side kills, and Cydney Christensen’s shot off a Delta block attempt put Swanton up 19-13 from where they coasted to the first set win.
As sharp as the Bulldogs were in the first set, they made almost every possible error a team can make on the court allowing the Panthers to an 8-1 second set lead.
A miscommunication that allowed a second ball to fall, Darian Elendt stuffed a Swanton overpass, a bad set, a service error, a hitting error and two Finnen aces in which the Bulldogs were flat-footed drew the ire of Borer.
“That second set I don’t think anyone was on the same page in the beginning and we never really caught back up.”
The Bulldogs got as close as 23-19 when a couple of Delta hitting mistakes and yet another double hit call chopped into a seven point lead.
Miller stuck a kill from the middle and Finnen scored off a blocker around a Panther net violation to give the second set to Delta.
The last two sets, however, Swanton left no doubt.
Christensen scored three times off blockers and another when she dunked an overpass to give Swanton a 9-5 lead.
Emily Clifton kept the Panthers close with a back row kill and an ace but four straight Delta mistakes including…you got it…a pair of double hit calls, gave Swanton a 14-8 lead.
Smith added a pair of mid-set kills around another Clifton ace to keep that six point lead, then Taylor scored on a tip, Smith nailed an ace and Christensen scored off a block attempt to end it.
The momentum the Bulldogs gained in the third set they carried into the fourth, taking an early lead on Deanna Herr’s left side kill and extended from that point on two Taylor aces, Christensen’s shot off the tape that rolled over, then a power slam from the junior hitter along with no less than 11 Delta mistakes that turned into Swanton points.
With the Bulldogs up 22-11, Clifton scored three aces on the Bulldog backline during a five point run that got the Panthers within six before Smith’s kill from middle restored some order and Cassie Kosier’s ace ended the match.
“We played a lot better tonight actually than we have previously,” said Borer. “Especially defensively. If we continue to do that we’re going to be a tough team to defend at the net.”
Dogs take five-set thriller over Wauseon
Resiliency is probably the best word to describe Swanton volleyball’s effort after they fought back down two games to one to defeat Wauseon in five sets 21-25, 25-21, 17-25, 25-23, 15-13 last Tuesday at home in the NWOAL opener.
“That is kind of what our team’s been like so far this season,” said Borer on the fight of his team. “We are pretty young, so we’re trying to get those young girls to learn what varsity volleyball’s all about. And just battling back. When we were in that (third) set, down whatever we were, I said wheher we win this set or not we’ve got to build the momentum for the fourth set.
“They showed me a lot tonight. As far as coming back from down 2-1. And that third set the way we played that one. Proud of them.”
“It is definitely one that we wanted to come away with,” said Wauseon coach Bill Blanchong. “We knew that Swanton had some weapons and that we would have to take care of it. Overall I was really pleased with the way the girls played. Really it was very good volleyball. Unfortunately, we didn’t come out on top.”
The pendulum seemed to swing Swanton’s way midway through the fourth set when they overcame an early deficit to take the lead.
With the score knotted at 18, Wauseon’s hitting error and then a tip at the net from Smith put the Bulldogs in front.
“I don’t know what the stats were but I know she had a good night hitting for the most part,” said Borer of Smith.
The two teams kept alternating points until a Bulldog error tied it up at 22. However, a pair of Christensen kills put Swanton at game point.
Following a Lexi Sauber shot down the middle for the Indians, Christensen answered with a strike down the middle to seal it, tying the match at two games apiece.
Swanton held minimal leads in the fifth and deciding set, but the Indians forced the Dogs to commit a pair of errors which tied it at 13. The Dogs and junior Sidney Taylor won it as she got a kill, then followed it up with an ace.
“We were playing really well early,” said Blanchong. “And then at the end both teams were playing well and when that happens it is just a matter of the roll of the ball. And they got the roll.”
Following a tip at the net for Smith in the opening set, the Indians responded with a kill by Jen Sanders and back-to-back aces from Faith Weber to push their lead to 24-18. Swanton then scored three straight on Christensen’s shot down the middle, a Wauseon error and Riley Gardner’s ace before Sauber scored from the left side to give the Indians the first set.
Swanton trailed for most of the second set but made a late rally and ended up taking it 25-21.
The third set, however, was the most dominant in favor of the Indians. They began the game with a Sauber kill from the left side, then converted five more points off the serve of Maddie Trejo to open up a 6-0 advantage.
Following a Wauseon infraction, Sanders got a kill on a shot off a Swanton block, Maddy Martinez added an ace, a Bulldog error and Sauber’s strike down the middle extended their lead. Sauber then got a block and another Swanton miscue put the margin at 12-1.
The Indians held a lead as big as a 20-3 in that third game. Swanton did cut it to 23-15 but could not climb all the way back, however, they used their late flurry to give them confidence throughout the rest of the match.
Swanton was also in action last Monday as they defeated Fayette.
The Dogs defeated the Eagles 25-28, 25-13, 25-20. Smith led the charge as she was 17 of 20 hitting with 14 kills and two blocks. Christensen was also 17 of 20 and had seven kills, while Taylor notched six kills and three aces.
Swanton now hosts Stryker on Tuesday and Liberty Center in an NWOAL match on Thursday.
Reach Joe Blystone at [email protected]