Swanton’s veteran presence proved to be too much as the Bulldogs bounced back from a nine-point loss in the first game to defeat Wauseon 16-25, 25-10, 27-25, 25-23 in the NWOAL volleyball opener Tuesday at Wauseon.
“I knew Wauseon was gonna be tough coming back from last year. A lot of experience (returning),” said Swanton coach Kyle Borer after the match. “With Lexi Sauber in the middle, she’s got some power with her. And coming over here for our first league match. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. They had a big crowd, they (the fans) were loud. For some of my younger players, that’s a little nerve-racking for them. So, after that first set we just had to settle down.”
“We had a really, really good gameplan coming into this match,” noted Wauseon mentor Bill Blanchong. “And the girls executed it perfectly in game one. Then game two, we didn’t execute it at all. Which is why you had the total flip flop (of score). And then the rest of the match was an incredible match. We tried to match hit for hit, serve for serve, pass for pass. They ended up (winning) by two balls both game three and game four.”
Following a Julia Smith kill to get Swanton within two at 15-13 in game one, Wauseon scored 9 of the next 10 points to take control.
The Bulldogs had a hitting error, Wauseon’s Kelcy Blanchong collected a pair of aces, and Jen Sanders fired a shot off a Swanton block attempt before another Smith kill ended the Indians’ run. But not for long, as Karli Penrod answered with a kill from the left side and Maddie Trejo scored on a two-handed push. A Swanton error and back-to-back Lexi Sauber kills made it 24-14.
Swanton would get a couple more points before Sauber finished them off with a shot down the middle.
The Indians tried to hang close in the second set, but the Bulldogs eventually pulled away.
Cydney Christensen got them started with consecutive kills, then the Indians had a pair of shots go out of bounds, Swanton answered with two points – the second an ace by Smith, and Sydney Zirkle’s kill for Wauseon put it at 14-7 in favor of the Dogs.
Swanton later ballooned their lead to double digits where they ended up winning by 15 to even the match at one game apiece.
“The second set we limited our poor passing on serve-receive,” said Borer. “Our hitting errors. I mean, I don’t know how many hitting errors we had the first set but it was an abundance of them. Then we just played. And the result was totally different.”
Wauseon led by as much as four late in set three before Swanton battled back.
The Indians were at game point, 24-23, after a Bulldog miscue, but Swanton’s Sidney Taylor got a two-handed push to fall and a Wauseon hitting error gave the Dogs the advantage.
A Swanton serving error re-tied the score, but Christensen’s kill from the left side and a Wauseon infraction ended it.
“If you get that third set then you guarantee a game five no matter what,” said Blanchong on the importance of winning game three. “And honestly, I thought that’s the way tonight was gonna go. I thought it was gonna go five games.
“But yeah that third game was critical. We had a 21-17 lead I remember. And we just, we gave away a couple of points. We had too many unforced errors at critical moments.”
Down 24-19 in the deciding fourth game, the Indians looked to come back as they rallied off four straight. A Swanton error, an Indian ace followed by Sauber’s shot through a block, and a Bulldog shot that traveled too far made it 24-23.
However, Taylor finished them off with a strike from the outside.
“The seniors led us tonight with their experience. Both verbally and on the floor,” concluded Borer. “And I know they made some errors too, but, they are gonna lead us all season.”
Swanton next hosts Delta in non-league action Thursday.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010