After looking outmatched in the first set, Swanton regrouped to take the final three sets for a 17-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-17 win at home over Otsego to claim a Division III volleyball sectional title Saturday evening.
The Knights used seven kills from senior Zion Richardson in the first game which helped get them a 25-17 win. They looked to be on their way to another victory in game two as they built a 6-0 lead early.
A pair of Jaclyn Ghesquiere aces in between two Swanton errors made it 4-0. Richardson’s strike down the middle and another Swanton miscue extended the lead, before a serving error from the Knights put the Bulldogs on the board.
From then on the Bulldogs began to chip away and with the margin at 9-5 in favor of the Knights, Swanton’s Sidney Taylor scored from the left side, Cydney Christensen followed with a pair of kills, and Taylor recorded a block to knot the score.
Swanton grabbed the lead on the next point with Julia Smith’s ace, and believe it or not, they would never trail the rest of the match. A big part of that success came from being able to neutralize the Otsego hitters, particularly Richardson, after the first set.
“We talked about in that first set we were sloppy passing the ball,” said Swanton coach Kyle Borer after the match. “So, as long as we clean that up, we would control more of the offense. Dictating what they (Otsego) were gonna do on their side of the net. Then when we gave them easy plays to handle, then yeah she (Richardson) was getting quality swings. And she’s one heck of a player. We had to limit her and keep her on the back row as much as possible.”
The Dogs maintained a minimum lead down the stretch in game two and Christensen put them at game point, 24-21, after a shot down the middle. However, Richardson responded with a pair of blocks, getting the Knights within a point. Smith slammed the door on them with a left-side kill to knot the match at one game apiece.
“Like I told them after the second set, when we battled back, I was proud of the effort we showed and the resiliency. Just sticking to our gameplan and keep fighting,” said Borer on the message to his team after the second set.
Consecutive kills by Ghesquiere for Otsego tied the score at 11 midway through the third set. The Dogs then responded with a run of their own.
A Knight error broke the tie, two more Swanton points and a Knight miscue followed, Otsego then got a point back, but Abby Arnold’s tip at the net and Christensen’s strike down the middle gave the Dogs a 19-14 lead.
Otsego would later tie it at 23 on three straight kills from Ghesquiere, Lucy Roberts and Brynne Limes. But, Swanton seniors Taylor and Christensen finished it off, as Taylor scored from the middle and Christensen got a block.
“They are gonna lead us like they have all year,” said Borer of his senior leaders. “I’m not sure of the statistics, but I know for the most part, when were aggressive we were swinging well. And we had good results. They blocked us some, especially early on, and we weren’t covering as well as we should of. But, we got better (as the match went on).”
Swanton kept their swagger in the fourth set as they were never really threatened by the Knights.
In the middle of the set after a Bulldog hitting error, the Knights then had three straight errors of their own. Ghesquiere responded with a kill, but Smith got a kill from the left side which gave Swanton a 13-7 lead.
Otsego had trouble getting any closer than six points the rest of the way, with Swanton pulling away for a 25-17 win to put a bow on their sectional championship.
Swanton now advances to the Defiance District where they will take on Tinora at Defiance High School Wednesday at approximately 8 p.m. in the district semifinal. Eastwood and Fairview will due battle in the first game starting at 6:15 p.m.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010