By BRIAN BASSETT
ELIDA - The Lincolnview Lady Lancer volleyball team has struggled with consistency throughout the season.
That was not a problem Tuesday evening in the Division IV sectional opener at Elida High School, however, as Lincolnview dominated Ridgemont from start to finish en route to a 25-13, 25-15, 25-20 sweep.
“We finished. We’ve had a hard time playing in games two and three all season. It was good that we were able to come through and finish it - finish in three games instead of four or five,” said Lady Lancer coach Heather Crow.
Third-seeded Lincolnview jumped on the seventh-seeded Golden Gophers early in the first set, jumping out to a 9-3 lead and forcing a Ridgemont timeout.
A kill by sophomore Devann Springer and a tip point from junior Ashley McClure ran the Lincolnview lead to 12-4 out of the break. Later in the set, after a McClure ace and a Ridgemont error, the Golden Gophers took their second timeout, trailing 17-8.
McClure picked up another ace directly out of the break and junior Kelsey Mohr added a kill to run the Lady Lancer lead to 19-8. Ridgemont couldn’t recover and a kill by senior Lauren Calvert sealed the first-set win.
McClure opened the second set with a kill but Ridgemont responded to a 2-1 lead on a kill from senior Toshia Vanbuskirk. The teams then fought to ties at 2, 3, 4, 9 and 10, before a McClure kill returned the lead to Lincolnview.
With Lincolnview leading 13-12 later in the set, the Lady Lancers went on a 5-0 run which was capped by a tip point from senior Jodie Doner. Lincolnview outscored the Golden Gophers 7-3 throughout the remainder of the set and came away with a 2-0 lead.
Sloppy play by the Lady Lancers allowed Ridgemont to take a 5-1 lead to open the third set but an emphatic kill by Doner sparked a Lincolnview rally which saw them force a tie at eight and force a Golden Gopher timeout.
After a tie at 11, three consecutive Ridgemont errors allowed the Lady Lancers to separate themselves but the Golden Gophers stayed close behind.
A Lincolnview attack error cut their lead to 17-16 but they answered with Doner and Springer kills. A Calvert kill finally gave Lincolnview match point and McClure sealed the match with a kill.
Crow explained that the Lady Lancer serving was a little off but they will trade a few more errors for aggressiveness: “Our service was a little bit tough. We missed more serves than we’re comfortable with but the girls will focus. I think it’s because we told them to be aggressive. They were being more aggressive tonight, so we expected more errors.”
McClure and Doner led the Lady Lancers with 10 kills each. Senior Whitney Miller had 33 digs, while McClure had five aces. Mohr had 19 assists and Springer added 17.
The win improves Lincolnview to 9-11 on the season. Ridgemont drops to 2-17 on the campaign.
The win for the Lady Lancers matches them up with top-seeded Ada (10-11) in Saturday’s sectional championship game.
“The girls are motivated; they had their eyes on a goal, which was to play Ada again,” Crow added. “We got beat by them in five (in the tournament) last year, so, it’s their goal. They’re been practicing really well, so hopefully the intensity continues. ‘Go all out or go home;’ that’s the girls’ mentality right now.”
Cougars advance with 4-set win over Wapakoneta
By Jim Cox
LIMA - Volleyball, more than any other sport, is a game of momentum. In Tuesday’s Division II sectional semifinal at Lima Senior, Van Wert started with it and ended with it, topping Wapakoneta 25-15, 14-25, 25-23, 25-16.
The Cougars (13-10) will play in Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. final against the winner of Tuesday’s second match between St. Mary’s and Defiance, a 5-set winner over St. Marys.
After splitting the first two sets, the Redskins (13-8) were dominating the third set behind their superior hitters: Megan Hayzlett, Carli Sammons and Lyndsi Whitmore. However, with Wapak leading 16-6, the momentum swung gradually in Van Wert’s direction as some errors began to creep into the Redskin offense.
Wapak still led 21-15 but the Cougs reeled off five in a row (double-contact violation by the Redskins, push kill by Alexis Dowdy and three Wapak serve-receive errors on the offerings of Riley Jones). A tip by Hayzlett stopped the bleeding briefly but the ensuing serve went into the net. The Redskins mishandled two straight Alexa Dunlap serves to put the Cougars up 23-22 but Dunlap then served one long to tie it at 23.
A tip kill by Dowdy put Van Wert within a point of the set and that’s when the play of the match occurred. Hayzlett appeared to have tied it at 24 with another vicious slam but Van Wert’s Sydney Collins lunged and managed to get a hand on the ball, keeping it alive for Claire Gamble, who bumped it over. A Wapak kill attempt then went long and the Cougs had the se, 25-23.
Van Wert coach Vicki Smith had called both of her timeouts early in the third set (at 1-6 and 6-12). The second timeout may have paid off, though not immediately. Per Smith: “I told the girls, ‘Come on, girls -- you’ve got to have confidence in your own passing. We can do it. One point at a time.’ Then they just started, one point at a time. It was the passing that we were struggling with for a while. They (the Redskins) hit a lot of topspin serves and we struggled with that in the beginning.”
Van Wert kept the momentum in the fourth set, never trailing. The Cougs rolled to a 13-6 lead behind setter-turned-hitter Amanda Coplin. Wapak got as close as three at 16-13 and 17-14 but kills by Coplin, Collins and Jones (on a push) then stretched the lead back to six; the Cougs coasted from there.
Van Wert had all the momentum at the beginning, leading the entire way in the first set behind the hitting of Dowdy, Dunlap and Collins.
After leading 9-5 in the second set, however, the momentum turned 180 degrees as the Wapakoneta offense began to click. Taking advantage of a slew of free balls from the Cougar side of the net, the Redskins’ leapers slammed away on a 20-5 run to seize control and win the set.
Piling up big numbers for Van Wert were Coplin (15 assists, 11 digs, 7 kills), Collins (17 digs), Dowdy (9 kills), Jones (15 assists), Dunlap (13 digs, 6 kills) and Gamble (10 digs).
Van Wert had beaten Wapakoneta in five sets in a Western Buckeye League contest on October 4.
Manchester sneaks out of Bluffton with 1-0 win over Beavers
By Adriane Bruner
Sports information assistant
BLUFFTON — The Bluffton University women’s soccer team was defeated 1-0 by Manchester University on Tuesday. The Beavers fell to 3-9-1 and 1-3-1 in the Heartland Conference, while the Spartans improved to 7-5-3 and 3-2-1 in the HCAC.
The Beavers fought hard throughout the first half, keeping the Spartans from finding the back of the net. After the first 45 minutes of back-and-forth play, the half ended in a scoreless tie.
The match remained deadlocked until minute 64 when the Spartans drilled the first and only goal of the afternoon when Brandy Crouse made a nice move down the left sideline and connected with Katelyn Barta in front of the net for a 1-0 Spartan lead.
Bluffton fought back, firing off shot after shot, but the Beavers were unable to capitalize as Manchester wrapped up a 1-0 victory over the home squad.
Bluffton piled up a 22-9 advantage in shots, including 13-2 in the second period. They also led the way in corner kicks (7-2). Both teams committed nine fouls during the match.
Senior Maddie Moore (Linn Grove, Ind./South Adams) finished with three more shots (12-9) than the entire Manchester team. Junior Katie Steenrod (Sidney) followed with three shots and Megan Moreo (Spencerville/Delphos Jefferson) added two shots, one on-goal.
Bluffton returns to action on Saturday in hosting Franklin College. The contest is slated for noon as the Beavers look to get back in the win column.
Nearhood honored by Heartland Conference
BLUFFTON — For the second consecutive year, Bluffton University sophomore Caitlyn Nearhood (Clyde) has been named Honorable Mention All-Heartland Conference following a solid campaign for the Beavers. She held the first singles and first doubles (with Melissa Hostetler) slots all season for Bluffton.
Nearhood was also named to the Heartland Conference All-Sportsmanship Team, sweeping the Bluffton conference awards this year.
The Beavers wrapped up their second season back with a 0-14 mark (0-8 HCAC).