DEFIANCE – The best season in the Swanton volleyball program’s history came to a close Wednesday as the Bulldogs dropped a four set match to Tinora 25-20, 15-25, 25-23, 25-23 in a Division III district semifinal at Defiance High School.
“Coming in, I knew we were going to be in for a fight,” admitted Swanton coach Kyle Borer on the match. “Just like last week, I felt like we had come out and show there was something left to do. Unfortunately, we came up two points short in two sets.
“(I) can’t be prouder of this group,” continued Borer. “Yes, we would like to be going on obviously, but Tinora is a heck of a team. There is no disappointment in coming up short against them.”
With the match tied at a set each, the Rams hung on to win the final two sets to advance to the district final. Each of the sets took the same to close. Tied at 19, Tinora went on a small run to grab the lead for good in the third set. Hannah Horn served an ace between a pair of Bulldog miscues to put Tinora in front 22-19.
Cydney Christensen gave the serve back to Swanton when she tallied a point, and the Bulldogs got closer when Tinora hit the next ball out of play, but Swanton could not take the lead. Lexi Watchman came back with a kill for the Rams, and again the lead went back to two points.
Julia Smith closed back-to-back points for the Bulldogs with a kill, which forced a Tinora timeout at 24-23. Watchman closed the set with a kill that Swanton hit out of play on the return.
“We couldn’t make any difference in the last two sets,” Borer said of coming up short. “We were back-and-forth, but didn’t do enough at the end to win.”
Swanton had chances in the fourth set, but again could not overcome early mistakes. Down 22-16, Abby Arnold and Smith picked up points as the Bulldogs battled back to 22-19. After a Tinora timeout, the teams traded the next three points.
“We had a lot of mental errors that turned into physical mistakes,” said Borer. “We just weren’t thinking in the situation. We didn’t use what they gave us to run our offense as we should of, and it cost us at the end.”
Down 24-20, the Bulldogs made one more run. Sidney Taylor and Christensen had back-to-back kills, then Jessica Dohm and Christensen combined on a block to make the score 24-23.
Needing just the final point, Delaney Monnin was able to hammer one final kill to finish the set and match for the Rams.
After dropping the first set 25-20, Swanton went on a 10-1 run to claim the second set. The Bulldogs used a timeout to quell a small run and holding a 15-14 lead, started the run when Tinora committed a violation.
Smith and Dohm added a block for the next point, and from there a pair of seniors stepped up. Taylor sandwiched a pair of kills around a Smith block, then Tinora hit the next three balls either out of play or into the net.
Smith and Dohm again combined for a block, then trying to stay alive, a kill by Tinora moved the score to 24-15. Taylor finished off the set with a kill.
“Like they have all year, they are going to lead us,” Borer said of seniors Smith, Taylor and Christensen. “On the court and off the court, they lead by example. In that second set, we were blocking some of their better hitters.”
Swanton finishes the best season in school history at 23-2 and the first ever to win a Northwest Ohio Athletic League championship.