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.
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.
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.
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.