Van Wert outlasts Lady Lancers in season opener
Wednesday, August 20, 2014 12:01 AM
By John Parent
Van Wert’s Landrie Koontz (6) and Alexa Dunlap come up with a block as Grace Gorman of the Lancers (5) looks on during the Cougars’ four-game win over Lincolnview on Tuesday night. The Cougars won the match 25-12, 17-25, 25-19 and 25-10. (DHI Media/Tina Eley)
DHI Media Sports Editor
MIDDLE POINT — County rivals opened the volleyball season at Lincolnview high school on Tuesday night as Van Wert visited the host Lady Lancers. Lincolnview gave the Cougars all they could ask for for three games, but the Cougars pulled away in the fourth and won the match 25-12, 17-25, 25-19 and 25-10.
After splitting the first two games, the Lancers and Cougars were knotted at 8-8 in the third. The squad alternated points for the next 10 serves until Lincolnview middle hitter Baylee Neate came up with a bloody lip and had to leave the game. The Lancers struggled without one of their senior leaders and coach JaNahn Evans had to use a quick timeout, but the veteran Cougars took advantage and pushed out to a 20-15 lead before winning the set at 25-19.
“Baylee is a good middle for us. I think that kind of set the tone, when she got her lip hurt. We had to sub in a JV outside for a varsity middle. I think that really led to some confusion,” Evans explained.
In the fourth, the Cougars sensed victory was close. After jumping out to a quick 6-0 lead, the Cougars kept the foot on the gas, getting it to 9-2 on Alexa Dunlap’s swat to the middle of the Lancer court and 13-5 on Saige Royer’s cross-court blast.
Late in the game, it was senior Alexis Dowdy hammering a pair of kills and classmate McKenzie Collins rifling one down the right side to give the Cougars an easy 25-10 game and victory in the match.
“I think they got more confident as the game went on,” Van Wert coach Vicki Smith said. “We need to get the first pass, and then we attack offensively. When we give them a free ball, then they can attack. We were much better at that in the fourth game.”
In the early going, it was the Lancers who took control, grabbing an 7-3 lead in the first game thanks to some strong net play from Katie McClure, who picked up a pair of kills and a block in the opening sequence.
From there, however, the first game was all Cougars. Van Wert scored 17 of the next 20 points with Landrie Koontz and Dunlap providing a key net play, combining on a block of Lincolnview’s Katlyn Wendel.
Lincolnview didn’t go away, however, taking the court with confidence and controlling the second game throughout en route to a 25-17 win.
“The second game was a good game for us, we played our game, which is what we have been focusing on,” said Evans. “We try to focus on the next point instead of focusing on the point behind. In games three and four, I think we fell short, we kept focusing on our errors. We just need to play ahead.”
While the Cougars were happy with the win, Smith sees ways her team can improve.
“That’s the one thing I wish we could do this year, is not let another team back into the game,” Smith noted. “It was all mental. Somebody would make a mistake, and then somebody else, and then somebody else. We have to stop that with just the one and pick it up from there.”
The Cougars (1-0) visit Paulding on Thursday while Lincolnview (0-1) will travel to Antwerp on Saturday.