McKenzie Collins (4) and Riley Jones converge to return a serve during Van Wert’s match against Ottoville on Tuesday. The Cougars won in three sets. (DHI Media/Tina Eley)
McKenzie Collins (4) and Riley Jones converge to return a serve during Van Wert’s match against Ottoville on Tuesday. The Cougars won in three sets. (DHI Media/Tina Eley)
By Jim Cox
DHI Media Correspondent
sports@timesbulletin.com
VAN WERT — Van Wert and Ottoville played two cliff-hanger sets Tuesday night, both won by the Cougars, 25-23, before the home team romped in the third, 25-14. The win moved Van Wert to 5-1, while the Lady Green fell to 3-3.
The first set saw 11 ties and five lead changes, with the lead getting as big as four points only once at 19-15, Van Wert. With the score 22-22, a Landrie Koontz kill put the Cougars on top 23-22, but Ottoville’s Annie Lindeman trumped that to tie it at 23. With the set hanging in the balance, a Lady Green kill attempt went into the net, and Van Wert’s Alexis Dowdy then blasted the clincher.
The second set was a near duplicate of the first. There were nine ties and five lead changes, the biggest lead being three points, which happened three times, all by the Cougars at 22-19, 23-20, and 24-21. At 24-21, Ottoville’s C.J. Kemper put away two straight to get within one, but the Lady Green then committed a crucial communication error, letting an easy one drop to the floor to end it.
Van Wert never trailed in the third set, although it was close until Riley Jones took over the serving duties at 9-7 and reeled off seven points in a row to make it 16-7, Cougars. The lead got as big as 12 at 24-12, with Saige Royer administering the match-ending kill.


“The girls came out tonight really playing as a team,” said Cougar coach Vicki Smith. “All the hitters stepped up; it wasn’t any one person. Defensively, Riley Jones did an awesome job at libero, picking up a lot of hard hits. Alexis Dowdy was strong in the middle. Serving has been pretty good this year; we have a lot of aggressive servers. They did play well tonight.”
Dowdy, Alexa Dunlap, and McKenzie Collins led Van Wert in kills with 13, seven, and six. Koontz was the top server, hitting on 17 of 19 with seven aces, and Collins went 14-for-14 with two aces. Amanda Coplin had 24 assists.
“We just played with a lot of inconsistency, a lot of balls dropping unexpectedly, and we just weren’t moving our feet,” said Ottoville coach Andi Wertenberger. “We did not serve well. We just weren’t with it tonight. We’re just very young, very green.”
Wertenberger hit the nail on the head with the maturity issue. Van Wert’s roster includes seven seniors, three juniors, three sophomores, and no freshmen. Ottoville’s has three seniors, one junior, five sophomores, and four freshmen.
Kemper, a freshman, led Ottoville servers, going 14-for-14 with four aces. Alexis Thorbahn had 16 assists, and Lindeman had eight kills. Freshman Bridget Landin led in blocks with six.
Van Wert won the junior varsity game 23-25, 25-11, 26-24 to improve its record to 5-1. Ottoville’s JV squad is now 4-2.