St. John’s senior Katrina Etzkorn lays out on a dig and keeping the volley going during Monday night’s Blue Jay home match versus Columbus Grove. The Lady Jays outlasted the Bulldogs in 5.
DELPHOS — St. John’s lost a 5-set volleyball battle Saturday to Ottoville.
The Blue Jays hosted another Putnam County League foe Monday night — Columbus Grove — at Robert A. Arnzen Gymnasium.
The Bulldogs had earlier bested the Big Green in five sets.
Appropriately, this one also went five sets, with the Jays outlasting the visitors 24-26, 26-24, 25-20, 11-25, 17-15.
Leading the Lady Jays (6-12) on Senior Night were senior libero Katrina Etzkorn (30 digs), senior Christie Carder (35 assists, 14 digs, 3 blocks), senior Heather Vogt (10 kills, 12 blocks, 4 stuffs), senior Emily Horstman (10 kills, 3 blocks), senior Bailie Hulihan (9 kills, 4 blocks), senior Lauren Utrup (8 kills, 6 blocks, 3 stuffs), junior Samantha Schwinnen (13 digs) and junior Kaylie Youngpeter (13 digs, 4 aces).
The other Blue Jay senior playing in her final home match was Madison Zuber.
“It was a great Senior Night. We had so many girls contribute tonight; it was a total team effort,” St. John’s coach Kellie Sterling said. “Whoever we had in there was doing well; we hit well, we dug well, we got a lot of touches on their hits. We started out slow in the first game but then made it close at the end. We did a nice job with the serve, getting them out of their offensive rhythm early and giving us the chance to run ours.”
Leading the Lady Bulldogs (11-5) — with only one senior — were junior Julia Wynn (21 kills), junior libero Kelli Vorst (25 digs), junior Rachel Schumacher (51 assists), sophomore Hope Schroeder (3 aces) and 10 kills each from junior Elizabeth Selhorst and sophomore Sydney McCluer.
“We had our moments of great play but then we had moments when we struggled. I thought we were through that the last three weeks but we had it tonight,” Grove coach Kelly Lepley noted. “We have to be ready to give it everything all the time; when we do that, we’re pretty successful. We didn’t do that all the time tonight.”
Columbus Grove had all the momentum entering the ultimate set but the Jays broke it with a kill from Hulihan to start it. That was short-lived, though, as three kills by Wynn helped pace the visitors to an 8-4 edge on a hitting error on the Jays (33 for the match versus 32 for the guests), forcing a Sterling stoppage. The Jays began a rally on a hit off the block by Horstman. They battled back to tie it at 14-14 on a stiff by Buettner. A stuff by junior Brittany Claypool gave the Jays a 15-14 edge. An in-the-net call on the Blue and Gold tied it at 15. A hitting miscue by the Bulldogs gave the Jays match point and a hit off the defense by Buettner sealed the deal.
The first set was generally close as the teams battled at the net and in the back row. An early 8-4 edge by the visitors on a hit by junior Sammi Stechschulte eventually led to a 7-point lead — 17-10 — on a Wynn spike. Back came the Jays to notch a 24-all tie as Vogt stuffed an attempt at the net. However, a Wynn off-speed hit gave the visitors set point and a hitting error gave them the opener.
The second set was nip-and-tuck the entire way as the biggest margin by either unit was four — twice by the Jays — and there were several ties, the last at 24-24 on a missed Blue Jay serve. A hitting error on the Bulldogs gave the serve to Hulihan and she delivered an ace to tie the match at one apiece.
The Jays used that momentum to secure a 10-3 lead at the beginning of the third set — after the Bulldogs scored the first three points, a missed hit gave Hulihan the serve and a hit off the block by Horstman gave St. John’s that 7-point edge. Grove never recovered. The Jays eventually led 20-10 on a combo stuff from Utrup and Vogt and the closest the visitors could get was four the rest of the way. A tap over the net by Vogt gave the Jays a 2-1 match edge.
Just as one thought the hosts had the Big Mo in their corner, it was snatched away by the Bulldogs in the fourth. A stuff by Schumacher put them on their way and nothing the Jays did could stop it. The visitors scored the first eight points — capped by a Vorst ace. The Jays had a mini-rally — getting as close as 9-5 on an ace by the southpaw-serving Utrup — but the Bulldogs had the answer; a 10-3 spurt that put them in complete command at 19-8. A kill by Buettner and a combo stuff by Buettner and Utrup gave the hosts hope but a kill by Stechschulte put the Bulldogs on their way. They tied the match on a hitting error on set point.
“We got down 8-4 in the fifth set and the girls just decided they weren’t going to lose,” Sterling added. “They just wanted it that badly. I’m not sure what really happened in the fourth game — it was just one of those moments. However, I liked how we responded.”
“St. John’s did a nice job of starting to find our weaknesses; when they found that out, they attacked it,” Lepley added. “We broke down some and they found the areas. We simply didn’t adjust quick enough.”
The Jays moved to 6-8 on the junior varsity campoaign with a 16-25, 25-17, 26-24 triumph.
St. John’s visits Versailles 5:30 p.m. Thursday, while Columbus Grove hosts Crestview.