The Swanton volleyball team made history Tuesday night when they defeated Patrick Henry in four, 25-22, 23-25, 25-14, 25-18. The Bulldogs clinched at least a share of the Northwest Ohio Athletic League championship, the first in program history.
“We are so excited to have been able to clinch at least a share of the league title tonight,” said coach Kyle Borer. “It was obviously one of our goals we had had since I took over this program. Each year we have gotten closer and closer and now we reached that goal. I am so proud of these kids and that’s what its all about, seeing them be successful and celebrating that.”
The Bulldogs finished 4-4 in league play each year from 2012-14. They improved to 6-2 in 2015 and last season finished 5-2, which was good for second place.
Swanton, who is ranked 14th in Ohio in Division III, finishes the season at Delta on Oct. 10. A win would give them the outright league title.
The match started with two close sets. Swanton (17-1, 6-0 NWOAL) built two nice leads in the opening set, only to see Patrick Henry (12-7, 4-2) storm back and make it interesting both times.
The second time, Swanton turned a 16-16 tie into a 24-18 lead with the help of a kill and a tip from Cydney Christensen and a pair of kills from Julia Smith. Patrick Henry fought back to make it 24-22 on two kills from Faith Frania, but Smith finished off the opening set with a kill.
In the second set, it was the Bulldogs who had to fight from behind. Some sloppy play put Swanton in an early 8-2 hole. They fought back to within one before another Patrick Henry run gave the Patriots a 17-10 lead.
Patrick Henry held the lead the rest of the way but Swanton made it interesting. An Ashlynn Waddell kill made it 24-23 Patriots, before Frania finished the set off with a kill.
“Patrick Henry played a great match and credit goes out to them,” Borer said. “They blocked us better than any other team has all year. It was tough to continue digging up more blocked attacks than usual.
“We gained an advantage on them in certain rotations and we used our serving to help us go on runs. We knew who they liked getting the ball to, so we just had to play fundamental defense and communicate. We did that consistent enough tonight.”
Swanton never trailed and dominated the third set, winning 25-14. The Dogs scored seven straight, including three kills from Christensen, for a 14-7 advantage. A kill by Jessica Dohm and Patriot miscues gave Swanton an 18-8 advantage.
Kills from Christensen and Sidney Taylor helped push Swanton to the brink of victory and a Christensen tip finished the set.
The fourth set was closer, but the Bulldogs were in control most of the way after overcoming an early deficit. Swanton saw a four point lead evaporate, forcing Borer to call a timeout with the scored tied at 10.
The Bulldogs responded out of the break, with two kills from Smith helping to push the lead back to three points. They would lead the rest of the way.
“The girls knew what we were playing for tonight and they knew Patrick Henry was a very good team,” said Borer. “We had to play hard the whole night and it was great to see every girl give her best effort.”
Smith led the way for Swanton with 20 kills and 10 blocks, while Christensen had 13 kills and Taylor 9. Taylor also had 23 digs while Abby Arnold tallied 34 assists.
Dogs sweep North Central
On Monday, Swanton earned a three-set win at home over North Central. They held on for a 25-19 win in set one, took set two 25-13, and set three 25-16.
“I was very pleased the way we came out in the first set tonight,” said coach Kyle Borer. “We were aggressive offensively and moving well on defense. We built a big lead in that set, but unfortunately we committed 7 hitting errors that allowed them to bring the match back to 16-15.”
After pulling away for a six-point win in the first game, Swanton broke away from the Eagles in the middle of game two.
An Ashlynn Waddell kill made it 13-10, then after a pair of North Central hitting errors, the Eagles’ Macie Wilson fired one down the middle for a point, but consecutive kills from Swanton’s Julia Smith and an Eagle miscue put the Bulldogs up 18-11.
The Eagles would score just two more points in the set, as Smith, Cydney Christensen, and Olivia Williams slammed the door with three straight kills at the end to put them up two games to none.
North Central (10-8) took an early 2-0 lead in the third set on a Bulldog error and a Makayla Knapp ace, however, it didn’t last long.
Swanton grabbed the lead later in the set and although a miscue got the Eagles back within three, 9-6, the Dogs extended the lead from there. Christensen fired a running shot down the middle, Sidney Taylor followed with a block, Smith notched back-to-back kills and an Eagle error put them up eight.
Vada Lashaway answered with a shot down the middle for North Central, but kills by Smith and Taylor put the margin at 16-7. The Dogs maintained that nine-point lead until the end.
“We had great results attacking tonight although it seemed like even when we got hard swings they were digging us at times, but we continued playing and had to finish longer volleys,” said Borer. “We have a long week of matches and we talked about coming out tonight and being consistent.”
Christensen paced the Bulldog offense with 16 kills on 25 of 28 hitting. Smith was 13 of 15 with 10 kills and four blocks, while Taylor added six kills, 15 digs, three blocks and three aces.