OTTOVILLE — Crestview has had major success throughout the years in the OHSAA volleyball tournament, while Jefferson is trying to build a legacy in the second season.
Those two teams — both with a lot of youthful players — met up Tuesday night in Ottoville’s L.W. Heckman Gymnasium in Division IV sectional action.
The Lady Knights got off well in all three sets and the Lady Wildcats couldn’t quite answer as Crestview got the 25-18, 25-15, 25-14 sweep.
“That’s been our pattern lately; getting off to slow starts and then fighting from behind. We seem to lack early intensity,” Jefferson coach Joy Early noted. “I felt we moved pretty well most of the match except when we fell behind early in the first and second sets but it’s hard to fight from behind the whole time. Still, I like how we battled and fought back; we made a game of it in the first.”
For Crestview mentor Tammy Gregory, the good starts were needed.
“We needed that; I only have three girls that have varsity tournament experience, so we needed good starts,” Gregory explained. “Usually, we like having the seed and the bye but having the first match was a blessing; we got the jitters out of the way early in the match today and as long as we stay in the tournament.”
The Knights (16-7) got the first point of the match on a kill by junior Kirstin Hicks (9 kills, 9 digs, 3 aces) and never looked back, building an 8-1 edge on her ace. Even after an Early timeout, all the momentum was in the Crestview corner as a hitting error on the Red and White (31 for the match versus 20 for Crestview, many of then double-hits) put them up 14-3. Back came the Wildcats (7-16) behind senior Fallon Van Dyke (6 kills, 11 digs) and junior Katelyn Goergens (4 kills, 3 stuffs, 10 digs) to get within 19-17 on a hitting error. However, a missed serve snapped the momentum and allowed the Red, White and Blue to run it out, winning the first set on a kill by sophomore Megan Hartman (4 kills).
A hitting error on the first point of the second set started Crestview up to an 7-0 lead, forcing an Early timeout. Once again, the Wildcats battled from behind and this time got within 7-6 on a net violation on Crestview. However, a hitting miscue once again snapped the “Big Mo” and opened up the way for Crestview to use its myriad options at the net: 6-0 sophomore Courtney Trigg (5 kills, 6 stuffs, 4 aces), senior Mykale Clifton (5 kills) and freshman Haley Helm (5 kills, 7 assists). The Knights spent the rest of the set adding onto its lead and a double-hit on set point put them up 2-0.
The Knights got the first two points of the third set but the Lady ’Cats weren’t going to dig an early deep hole this time out. They played on even terms for at least the first third of the set but with the prowess of Trigg blocking and hitting and main setter Mackenzie Riggenbach (sophomore with 19 assists, 8 digs) using all her weapons, it was a matter of time. A hit off the block by Clifton ended the match.
“I told the girls after the match of how proud I was of the improvement they have shown the last two seasons. We have come a long way in every phase,” Early added. “I only lose two seniors, Fallon and Caitlin (Landwehr), and they were the leaders that helped allow that improvement. Fallon in particular will be hard to replace because she does everything out there; we will need someone to step up to take her place and have everyone else step up.”
Junior Rileigh Stockwell (4 kills, 11 digs), classmate Kamie Pulford (11 digs) and sophomore Brooke Culp (12 assists) contributed heavily to the Lady Wildcat cause.
“Courtney really sets the tone for us at the net. She has had matches where she gets a lot of blocks and some where she doesn’t,” Gregory added. “When she does get a lot of touches, it sets the tone for everyone else; the girls feed off of that, especially when she gets stuffs.”
The Knights will play top-seeded Kalida 6 p.m. Saturday.