LEIPSIC — The Putnam County League volleyball championship came down to two teams; Leipsic and Kalida.
The Lady Wildcats traveled to Leipsic on Thursday night to try to unseat the reigning champs and after the first set, it looked as if the Vikings were going to have an easy time of it as they came away with a 25-8 victory.
However, the match would go four games and the following three would be a grueling test for both squads. In the end, Leipsic retained its crown with scores of 25-27, 25-21, 25-20.
In the first set, the hosts took control from the start, taking a 5-0 lead and never trailing throughout. Back-to-back kills by Gerdeman stretched the lead to 9-3. Leipsic had gone on a 14-2 streak and an ace by Gerdeman late in the set gave the Vikings a 23-8 advantage. The victory came on a Kalida hitting error.
The second began much like the first; the home team took five of the first six points but the Lady ’Cats came clawing back. Bailey Dangler got the rally started for Kalida with consecutive kills and on a Vikes’ hitting error, the set was tied a 7-7. Elizabeth Turnwald had a pair of aces, one tying the set at 9-9. Neither team could get any momentum and gain a stronghold on their foe with the teams trading hitting errors and very few sequential kills.
Kalida did manage back-to-back points on a Amy Smith kill and a Dangler ace to give them a 19-17 advantage but the teams again traded hitting errors later in the set; after Hailey Gerten delivered a shot to the Kalida side of the court, the game was knotted again at 21-21.
The squads locked up at 22, 24 and 25 before the Wildcats rallied for two in a row as Leipsic had a net serve and a hit into the net, giving the guests a 27-25 win and tying the sets at one each.
Set number three just highlighted the intensity the two squads brought to the court; Leipsic scored the first two points before the Wildcats came back to tie. In fact, neither team had more than a 2-point advantage until later in the set. The teams deadlocked 13 times in the set: Kayla Siefker led Kalida with four kills in the set, Dangler accounted for three.
Dangler and Siefker had successive scores early on for the ’Cats leading to a 9-9 tie; the teams traded hitting errors to knot the game. This pattern of back and forth would continue to a 15-15 stalemate. At that point, the Vikings took control; the Wildcats hit the ball into the net on a return attempt and on the subsequent serve by the home team was called for being in the net, giving the Vikings a 17-15 advantage.
Kalida took the next point on a Turnwald kill then the hosts got some momentum going their way. After a Wildcat serve into the net, Leipsic led 21-17 and were within striking distance of a win. Another net serve by Kalida made it 24-20 but a Siefker kill gave the Wildcats life at 24-21. On the next serve, the ball went to the net, giving the Vikings a 2-1 advantage in sets.
The final set mirrored the third: Leipsic takes early lead, Wildcats come back, a plethora of ties. After the hosts led for much of the first part of the set, the ’Cats came back and on a Siefker kill tied the game at 11-11. The two would swap points for the next several serves before Kalida took a 17-15 advantage on a Smith spike over the net. However, a series of hitting errors by both squads soon found the game tied up again, from 17-17 to 18-18, before Leipsic took the lead for good on a pair of miscues by the guests.
Haley Gerten celebrated Senior Night (she is the lone senior for Leipsic) by delivering a scoring spike crosscourt to give the Vikings a 21-18 advantage. However, the Wildcats weren’t ready to throw in the towel just yet. Smith served up another ace for Kalida to make it a 21-20 game in favor of Leipsic.
The hosts scored the final four points to take the match and the PCL crown.
Kalida goes to 14-5 overall and 3-1 in the league, while the Vikings move to 18-2 in all games and 5-0 in the Putnam County League.
In the JV contest, the Vikings came back from a 25-20 loss in the first set to take the next two 25-20, 25-11.