|Pioneers survive 5-setter vs. Lady Jays|
|Monday, October 21, 2013 12:21 AM|
By John Parent
ELIDA – Though it might not look like after a glance at their record, the St. John’s Lady Jays volleyball team turned in a solid season in the first year under head coach Carolyn Dammeyer. That season, however, came to a close with a 5-set defeat at the hands of Lima Temple Christian in sectional volleyball action at Elida High School on Saturday night.
Temple came into the contest seeded second in the bracket and St. John’s was the three. The Jays had defeated Perry in the sectional opener and Temple knocked off Ottoville to set the stage for the match.
Early on, both teams showed plenty of nervousness. A swat went too long off the right arm of Delphos senior Brittney Claypool and the Jays committed a mental error by being out of rotation on the next service point. The Lady Pioneers of Temple couldn’t take advantage, however, giving those points right back on a service error and a net violation.
It went that way through the first half of the opening set and the score was tied at 9-9 when Temple Christian finally began to settle in. Junior Lynnea Clay took a mighty swing from the outside and landed the ball perfectly on the back line of the court. Teammate Kara Brown tried the sideline with success on the next point and Clay challenged the St. John’s blockers and won for another point. The lead eventually grew 15-9 when Alicia Buettner misfired in her attempt to get around the block of Clay but the Lady Jays bounced back to cut the lead to two after a Bekah Fischer tip found open floor. It was as close as they would get, however, as Temple began attacking the next with fervor and taking advantage of their impressive size: Clay, Crystal Brenneman and Amanda Sutton. Clay finished off the set with a pair of difficult serves.
In the second, St. John’s began to settle in and played a very competitive set. With the Jays hanging around at 13-9, Temple, suddenly it was the Pioneers that began to feel the pressure with three hitting errors. With that, St. John’s seized control with back-to-back aces by freshman Jessica Geise before the Pioneers called timeout. Out of the break, Geise fired yet another ace to build a 16-14 lead for St. John’s.
As she did in the first set, Clay made a big impact for Temple Christian in set two, this time from the service line: seven straight points, including three aces and another that couldn’t by returned. By the time St. John’s got the serve back, the game was out of reach and an illegal hit by the Jays put them behind 2-sets-to-0 and facing the end of their season.
It wasn’t as if the Jays came out and played brilliant volleyball in the third but they did pick up their intensity and Temple might have eased off the gas a bit as well. The combination gave St. John’s a spark and they began to grow more confident. Spurred on by a raucous student section who made it their personal mission to drown out the sizeable Temple crowd, St. John’s stayed close early in the third and took control Fischer rejected a Clay slam to make it 10-7. Jays. Fischer served a pair of aces to push the lead out and should have had a third but the line judge ruled her offering too long, though it appeared easily in.
That call could have changed the momentum but the Lady Jays handled the Pioneer pressure and even when Clay came up with two blocks on the same point, St. John’s maintained control. A pair of digs on one point led to a Geise kill to make it 21-16, Jays, and Fischer came up with another block to all but seal the set.
Now that St. John’s had broken through, they wanted more; in the fourth they came out and took it. Playing far more aggressive volleyball in the set, they raced out to a 10-6 advantage after Buettner put a slam through the Temple block and Madelyn Buettner found the sideline for another kill. Fischer came up with a huge block and followed that with a blast to the far corner, causing the crowd to erupt and the Pioneers to take a timeout.
Temple looked to push back following the break, with their front line repeatedly challenging the St. John’s blockers with spike after spike. Unlike the first two sets, however, the Lady Jays were more than up to the task and gained more and more confidence. The Jays built a 10-point lead at 19-9 and though the Pioneers made it interesting with a late run, the Jays had forced a fifth set.
Unlike maybe any other game, volleyball is one where momentum can swing quickly. With a short fifth set facing both squads, all the pressure of extending the season coame down to 15 points. Be the first to get there and you get to move on.
Delphos opened the set with a missed blast, then Clay took aim from the middle of the court and sent a missile off the St. John’s back row. A service error and a kill from Alicia Buettner brought the Jays to within 3-2 but it was as close as they would get. Clay fired a ball through the block and Brown put a blast down the sideline for another kill. Temple got aces from Kayla Good and Alayna DeLeon to put the Jays on the brink and it was Clay who fittingly finished things off with two aces over the final six points for the 15-5 set victory.
“They got to be proud of that,” said Dammeyer of her team’s effort in forcing a fifth set from two sets down. “We’ve done that all season. We haven’t had a lot of wins but we’ve fought hard against every team we played.
“We had three seniors (Claypool, Alicia Buettner and Kaylie Youngpeter) and not a lot of varsity experience coming back this year but we fought hard against some outstanding competition in the MAC. I think seven out the 10 teams in our conference could be down at state. We need to develop some outside hitters, we need to work this off-season on weight training, jump training and plyometrics - just getting the girls more physical. Just keep working hard.”
Temple moves on to face probably the biggest giant in the Midwest Athletic Conference when they take on Marion Local at Van Wert High School on Tuesday night.