By Jim Cox
DHI Media Correspondent
FORT SHAWNEE - After losing their first Western Buckeye League volleyball matches, Van Wert and Shawnee were in a Thursday battle to stay alive in the league race. The much-more-consistent Cougars pulled off a 25-17, 25-17, 25-17 trifecta to remain hopeful. Van Wert is now 6-1 overall and 1-1 in the WBL. Shawnee is 2-4 and 0-2.
With four starters at 5-foot-10 or taller, the Lady Indians appeared to be a formidable opponent, especially with the tallest Cougar, 5-10 Alexis Dowdy, out with a sore back. Van Wert’s defense, however, once again proved to be the difference against the error-prone hosts.
“I have a deep lineup; they all stepped up and just did fine,” said Van Wert coach Vicki Smith when asked about the effect of Dowdy’s absence. “The one thing we didn’t do tonight was we missed a lot of serves (11 in the match). Our goal was no more than five for the night. That was the goal they set for themselves.”
Shawnee started the first set with a serve into the net, and the Indians never caught up. Shawnee did get within one at 13-12, at which point Van Wert’s senior setter Amanda Coplin took charge. Coplin dinked a kill into the open court to lead by two, then took over the serving duties, leading to five consecutive points and a 19-12 lead. The hosts then got within four at 20-16 and 21-17, but a rash of Indian errors allowed the Cougars to pull away.

There were five ties and two lead changes in the second set, but they all came early. With the score 10-9, Van Wert, senior Saige Royer’s serve led to six consecutive points, and it was never close after that.
The third set was by far the most interesting with nine ties and seven lead changes. With the score 13-13, Coplin again broke it open with her serving. Having abandoned her powerful jump serve, she used mostly deft placements to reel off eight straight points and break it open. A vicious Royer kill ended the match.
The Cougar offense featured, as usual, a balanced attack, led in kills by Peyton Fleming, Coplin, Royer, Alexa Dunlap, and Landrie Koontz with 7, 5, 4, 4, and 4, respectively. Coplin also had seven assists and five service aces.