DELPHOS — The climate inside the Robert A. Arnzen gymnasium felt more suited for a sand volleyball match than a high school matchup between the Van Wert Cougars and St. John’s Monday night.

In fact, the 85-degree temperature at match time made the gym floor slippery like a skating rink with the high humidity levels and excess sweat during the 5-set non-league matchup.

The Jays won the first two sets 25-22 and 25-23 before Van Wert rallied to win the last three 25-21, 25-15, 15-11.

The Lady Jays jumped out to 13-8 lead in the opening game and extended the lead with aces on serves by sophomore Jessica Geise and freshman Ellie Csukker. Van Wert stopped the St. John’s rally with a kill by Landrie Koontz and a pair of unforced errors by the Jays brought the visitors within one at 18-17. After a Van Wert return went into the net, the Cougars took the lead on back-to-back kills by Koontz and an ace serve by their Libero. With the score knotted at 22, the Jays recorded the final three points on an ace by Colleen Schulte, a little tapper by Geise and the set-winner with Rebekah Fischer’s kill shot to win 25-22.

Delphos continued to play like a well-coached team jumping out to a 11-5 lead in the second game. An ace serve by Van Wert’s Peyton Fleming was followed by a Maddie Pohlman kill for St. John’s to keep the lead at five. Van Wert rallied for 3 straight points lead by an Alexis Dowdy slam to force a time out by St. John’s coach Carolyn Dammeyer. After the break, both teams exchanged points to even the score at 20. St. John’s jumped back out in front with another Pohlman spike and a double hit call on the Cougars. Van Wert battled back on a return by Koontz and a pair of shots by Alexis Dowdy into the empty floor on the Blue Jays’ defensive side. The young Lady Jays remained poised under pressure to hang over for the game two victory exclamated by an impressive shot by Maddie Buettner for the 25-23 win.

The back-and-forth battle continued into the third set as both teams fought to a tie at 5. Van Wert took advantage of unforced errors by St. John’s to jump out to the largest lead of the night at 21-12. Back-to-back blocks for points by Fischer and Buettner/Olivia Kahney followed by two more points for Fischer brought the Jays within 21-16. Van Wert hung on for the 25-21 victory as the battled waged on in the heat.

Van Wert coach Vicky Smith said “we had a tough time getting starting tonight. We were reacting to St. John’s and had a tough time getting our serves over in the first two games. Our girls are well conditioned and were ready to play under these extreme conditions and it showed as we started playing well in the third game.”

The fourth game started much like the others as the score was tied at 10. A tapper by Amanda Coplin put Van Wert back in front and six straight errors by St. John’s extended the lead to 19-11. The Cougars’ Dowdy scored off a block and a kill but a light touch by Saige Royer on a tapper gave Van Wert a decisive 25-15 victory for force game 5.

The final game began with great play at the net between Geise for St. John’s and Van Wert’s Dowdy with shots back and forth between the pair. As the game progressed, the Cougars’ defense had dig after dig to jump out to a 7-2 lead. A shot by Coplin rolled off the net and fell in for a point for Van Wert and mistakes by the Jays pushed the lead to 10-3.

Suddenly a kill by Madison Ellis and serve by Buetter for an ace cut the lead down at 10-6. But Van Wert fought right back with a block by Alexa Dunlap and her snap serve fell in to push the margin back out to six points and the Cougars didn’t look back to win the game and match with a final score of 15-11.

After the game, Blue Jay coach Dammeyer was happy with her team’s performance.: “We came out strong tonight and played really well for our first action of the season.

Van Wert starting serving better in the third game and we couldn’t break their offense as we began to have a lot of unforced errors. This was a good learning experience for us as we had a lot of underclassmen on the court. Hopefully we will learn from this and continue to get better.”

Van Wert remains perfect on the young season at 3-0.