JEWELL – Tied at one set each, Swanton came out and played solid volleyball over the final two sets to return to the district tournament with a 25-21, 22-25, 25-20, 25-15 win over Hicksville in a Division III sectional semifinal Saturday at Tinora.
“The first time around (a match Sept. 24) we beat them in four at their place,” said Swanton coach Kyle Borer after the win. “We weren’t exactly the same roster of line-up as that game. We had to do some shifting around and do some different defenses, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.”
Each team felt the other out, learning about the competition in the first two sets. It was early in the third set when the Bulldogs took over. Beginning with a point from Alexis Sarvo, the Bulldogs went on an 8-1 run to take a 12-6 lead.
“It’s more what we do on our side of the net that controls the net,” added Borer. “If we can serve/receive well, we’ll be alright. Defensively, we were moving quicker.”
Hicksville used both its timeouts early, which nearly paid off. After the second, Harlee Shuman sandwiched a kill around two Swanton mistakes to cut the lead to 16-14.
The Bulldogs took over from there. Ashlynn Waddell and Sarvo had kills in a run, plus Alexis Bergman ended a long rally with a big kill, to put Swanton back in front 23-15.
Hicksville got as close as four, but Swanton got a point at the end when Hicksville hit a ball out of play to win 25-20.
The final set wasn’t even that close. Up 19-13, the Bulldogs finished on a 6-1 run. Waddell had two kills, with Bergman tallying the final point.
“Ashlynn Waddell swung well,” stated Borer. “Alexis Sarvo was the key. Jessica Dohm, Rylie Gardner, and Ellie Beroske all contributed.”
Swanton got a couple plays from Ellie Beroske to win the first set. Up 21-20, Beroske hammered a kill, then made a great play late to adjust and get the ball over the net to put the Bulldogs ahead 24-20. The set ended two points later when Hicksville watched a pass hit the floor.
Hicksville came out and took a seven point lead in the second set before winning 25-22.
The Bulldogs will now meet undefeated and fourth-ranked Tinora in a district semifinal Tuesday at Defiance.
“We have a lot of experience as far as getting back there,” the Swanton coach said of playing in the district. “We’re excited to go to the new Defiance High School and get another opportunity to advance again.”
Swanton plays in the opening game at 6 p.m. Otsego and Fairview meet in the nightcap.
Reach Randy Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org