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Friday, September 26th, 2008
By Randy Bruns
Tigers top Flyers in five games at The Hangar
Versailles, Minster pull off shockers in MAC
MARIA STEIN - After reeling off 13 consecutive wins to start the season, the Marion Local Flyers dropped their second straight match Thursday night in a five-game thriller against the Versailles Tigers.
The Tigers had been scuffling in league play, but put it all together against the Flyers to take the match by scores of 20-25, 25-15, 28-30, 25-21 and 15-11.
Versailles improves to 13-4 overall and 3-3 in the Midwest Athletic Conference, while Marion falls to 13-2 on the year and 5-1 in league play.
The Tigers vaulted out early in the first game, as Shelby Shimp served up six straight winners to stake her team to a 9-4 advantage. The Flyers got a pair of kills from Casey Heitkamp to pull back even at 10-apiece, and later Leah Rosenbeck smacked a pair of her own to give the hosts a 16-12 lead. The Tigers later pulled within one, but Kaylee Schaefer served up the final three winners, capped by an ace that finished the game.
Versailles again started out quickly in the second game, but this time its early 7-1 advantage proved to be too much for Marion to overcome. A kill by Heitkamp pulled the hosts within four at 14-10, but Versailles went on an 11-5 run thereafter to even up the match at a game apiece.
The third game was one for the ages, as the score was tied a ridiculous 17 times and the crowds on both sides of the gym were going bonkers. The Tigers looked good early with a 9-5 advantage, but after Alyssa Winner banged a kill and served up three straight service winners, neither team would hold a lead larger than two points the rest of the way. A disputed call allowed the Flyers to tie things at 25-all, and after more back-and-forth action, Jessica Schwieterman drilled an ace to give the hosts the game.
The Tigers started out with their customary lead in the fourth game when Jill Hemmelgarn smacked an ace to put the visitors up 7-2. The Flyers clawed their way slowly back, though, and when Winner scored on a block and a kill, the hosts grabbed a 16-14 advantage. But the Tigers scored five of the next six points to turn the tables and take their own two-point lead, and the Flyers wouldn't get closer than one point the rest of the way.
Versailles' penchant for taking early leads really paid off in the finale, which is the first team 15. Though it was a relatively modest 3-1 advantage, it enabled the Tigers to stay in front throughout the game. The visitors later built their bulge to 13-6 before the Flyers rallied to pull within three at 14-11, but Megan Campbell clouted an emphatic kill to end the match.
"This was a match that we really thought we could win," commented Versailles coach Jeremy Riley. "We're the underdog and they're ranked number one in the state in Division IV, so what did we have to lose? This is the performance I've been waiting on all season long."
According to Marion coach Amy Steininger, the Flyers - who start a freshman, three sophomores, a junior, and a senior - were undone by their inexperience.
"I thought our youth showed a little bit tonight," said Steininger. "When the game got tight, we were not as aggressive as we should have been in our serving and attacking. (Versailles) did an excellent job of taking us out of our offense and they put up a big block. I want to give them credit because I thought they played outstanding defense tonight."
Shelby Bey paced the Tigers with 16 kills, while Campbell had 15 kills to go with six blocks. Winner led the Flyers with 11 kills and Rosenbeck contributed nine.
Marion still has plenty of volleyball to play this week, as it will compete in the Crestview Invitational on Saturday morning. The first match will pit Marion against Ottawa-Glandorf and a win by the Flyers there could set up a second round rematch of last year's state finals against Norwalk St. Paul.
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