Wednesday, October 15th, 2008
Fort Recovery and Minster advance
By Randy Bruns
NEW BREMEN - The always rugged New Bremen volleyball sectional kicked off on Tuesday night with doubleheader action, as one Midwest Athletic Conference team gritted out a tough four-game win and another brought home a victory with a little more ease.
In the opener, Fort Recovery started strong before hitting a speed bump against New Knoxville in the third game, but the Indians rallied to take a tight fourth game in winning the match by scores of 25-12, 25-22, 13-25, and 25-21.
The nightcap saw Minster take on an overmatched club from Lima Perry, and the Wildcats advanced without much of a problem, taking the match by scores of 25-15, 25-15, and 25-14.
Tuesday night's action sets up an intriguing pair of sectional final matches on Saturday. In the first game, which begins at 2 p.m., Fort Recovery (11-12) will take on Marion Local (19-3) just two weeks after these two hooked up in a four-game battle that the Flyers won. The second game features a rematch from the regular season, as New Bremen (18-4) will attempt to avenge its only MAC loss of the year when it takes on Minster (15-8).
New Knoxville finished its regular season with an 11-12 mark, while Perry's season ended at 5-17.
Fort Recovery/New Knoxville
In the regular-season match between these two squads, Fort Recovery hung on for a four-game win, and the Indians did it again to start tourney play.
From the looks of the first game, it didn't look like this match would go more than the minimum of three games, as the Indians were hitting on all cylinders while the Rangers were knocking and pinging. A pivotal mid-game stretch saw the Indians go on an 11-2 run that widened their lead to 22-8, and it didn't take long to put a quick end to the opener.
The second game looked to be more of the same when the Indians jumped out to an 11-3 advantage, but the Rangers fought back and quickly drew to within two at 13-11. The Indians countered with another string of points that gave them a commanding 23-16 lead, but the scrappy Rangers reeled off six straight points to pull within one. A pair of seniors stepped up for the Indians, though, as Kinsey Wenning and Anne Koesters each smashed a kill to give the Purple and White a two-game advantage.
With their tournament lives at stake, the Rangers turned things around in the third game. Led by senior hitter Morgan Reineke's seven kills and two blocks, the Rangers roared out to a 13-5 advantage and never looked back. The Indians never drew closer than eight points the rest of the way, and Reineke finished the game with a laser straight to the ground to pull her squad within one game.
The fourth game was tight early on before New Knoxville finally built a 14-10 lead, but Fort Recovery responded in a big way. Aided by a pair of kills from Koesters, the Indians went on a 9-1 run to turn the tables and take their own four-point lead at 19-15. Consecutive kills by Jena Braden later got the Rangers within two at 22-20, but a pair of hitting errors brought on match point and Koesters ended things with a kill.
New Knoxville coach Jenny Fledderjohann pointed to her team's slow start as the key to the loss.
"In that first game it seemed like Fort Recovery was flowing so well and we weren't," said Fledderjohann. "Then in the second game we had a chance but couldn't pull it off. I think if we could've gotten that second game we would have been right there. They served us tough tonight and we didn't do it back to them."
Though her team had a two-game lead early on, Fort Recovery coach Diana Rammel knew it wasn't going to be easy to take the match.
"I told the girls before the third game started that (New Knoxville) wasn't going to roll over and let us win," said Rammel. "They really stepped up their level of play and got the momentum going their way, but in the fourth game we decided to start to play like we can."
As for Fort Recovery's next match, Rammel's squad knows what to expect from Marion Local and will go in with a plan.
"I expect another good match," commented Rammel. "We know what we need to do, we've done our homework, and we've got some video to watch. We'll just have to see what comes out of it, I guess."
The Commodores came into the match with a 5-16 record and no player taller than 5-foot-7, while the Wildcats sported a 14-8 mark and seven players topping the same height. All in all, a Perry win would have been a monumental upset, and Minster made sure it didn't happen.
The first two points of the first game foreshadowed how this match would go, as Erica Fullenkamp smacked consecutive kills to start things and neither she nor the rest of the Wildcats let up from that point on. The sophomore hitter finished the match with 17 kills and a bevy of assists from her setter position.
For all its physical disadvantages, Perry put up a good showing and never gave up. Though few of their points came on kills, the fact that they scored mostly on Minster errors came because they continued to extend rallies. The height and talent differentials were far too much to overcome, though, and the Wildcats simply wore them down over the course of the match.
Minster coach Ashley Rohrer had mixed feeling about her team's performance on the night.
"We're really working on perfecting every aspect of our game," said Rohrer. "Obviously you're always happy when you come out with a win, but you're also looking for leadership and intensity out on the court. We saw those things at times, so that's a positive, but we also made quite a few unforced errors that we shouldn't be making at this point in the season. We have a few days to get in the gym and work out those kinks so we're ready for Saturday."
Saturday's match between the Route 66 neighbors will be a replay of last year, but Rohrer is hoping the outcome is different this time around.
"The same thing happened last year when Minster beat New Bremen in the regular season, but come tournament time New Bremen beat Minster," said Rohrer. "These girls are definitely hungry and they're ready for a win. We had two MAC losses at the end of the season that we didn't anticipate, so we definitely have to step up our caliber of play so we're ready to go in and take charge."