Van Wert senior Alexis Dowdy (5) swings at a potential kill as McKenzie Collins (4) and Alexa Dunlap (20) look on. The Cougars swept Paulding in a non-conference match on Thursday night. (DHI Media/Tina Eley)
Van Wert senior Alexis Dowdy (5) swings at a potential kill as McKenzie Collins (4) and Alexa Dunlap (20) look on. The Cougars swept Paulding in a non-conference match on Thursday night. (DHI Media/Tina Eley)
By Nick Johnson
DHI Media Correspondent
sports@timesbulletin.com
PAULDING — The Van Wert Lady Cougars travelled north to the Jungle at Paulding High School to square off against the Lady Panthers in girls’ high school volleyball action on Thursday night. Van Wert was able to sweep Paulding in three straight sets, winning 25-20, 25-9 and 25-17.
The first set was back and forth between the two teams. With the score 13-12 and Paulding in the lead, the Lady Cougars went on a 5-0 run which would prove to be the difference in the first set. During the spurt, Van Wert got kills from Saige Royer and Alexis Dowdy to build the Lady Cougar lead to 17-13.
With the Van Wert lead shrinking to 22-19, Royer got a kill and an ace followed by a McKenzie Collins kill gave Van Wert a 25-20 victory in set one.
“It was definitely good to get the win in the first set. Paulding is always one of those team were you don’t know what to expect, but they always bring it in the first set and I really wanted to get the first game under our belt because it makes it easier to get the next two sets,” said Van Wert coach Vicki Smith.


The Lady Panthers got off to a 4-1 lead to start the second set, getting kills from Jaycie Varner and Taylor March. From there, it was all Cougars. Van Wert got kills from Dowdy and Landrie Koontz, followed by two Alexa Dunlap aces to take a 6-5 lead. The Cougars won 24 of the final 29 points of the set, getting multiple kills Dowdy, Royer and Dunlap along the way.
Van Wert ended the second set with a 4-0 run and picked up where it left off in the third, taking each of the first four points en route to a 13-7 edge after a Royer ace and a Koontz kill forced a Panther timeout. Dowdy and Amanda Coplin kills kept the Cougars rolling and Paulding tried to break momentum with another timeout at 19-9, but it was all but academic at that point. Paulding attempted to make a late run by getting two kills from Varner, but a Koontz kill gave Van Wert a three set victory with a 25-17 win.
“We struggled with the pass a little bit, but once we got the pass back we started to hit it to the key person,” Smith explained. “We just need to hit it to our spots and our targets. Once we did that everything was fine. I told them we need to stop and settle down and play our game. We were reacting in the first set and we need to play our offense and attack and not react.”
Van Wert improves to 2-0 on the season and Paulding drops to 0-1 on the year. The Lady Cougars play again on Monday at Delphos St John’s.