Wednesday, October 28th, 2009
By Randy Bruns
Flyers and Redskins roll to wins
Marion Local and St. Henry will square off for district championship Saturday
  COLDWATER - A pair of storied volleyball programs will once again go at it for a Division IV district crown after both posted convincing wins on Tuesday night at The Palace.
In the opener, the Marion Local Flyers started out slowly but picked up steam to make quick work of the Ottoville Big Green by scores of 25-16, 25-14 and 25-11. The nightcap was more of the same, as the St. Henry Redskins overpowered the Delphos Jefferson Wildcats with a dominating net game to win by scores of 25-18, 25-21 and 25-11.
Marion Local (24-0) and St. Henry (20-4) are certainly no strangers to each other in tournament play, though they've missed each other the past two years due to St. Henry previously playing in Division III. Now the Redskins are back in Division IV and the two will go at it again Saturday at 3 p.m. with a trip to the Vandalia regional up for grabs.
Marion Local 3, Ottoville 0
The undefeated Flyers came in as favorites against the 13-9 Big Green, but the underdogs from Putnam County made a match of it early on.
Ottoville found the corners and hit the lines early in the first game to hang right with Marion, but Kaylee Schaefer keyed a mini-run that put some distance between the two teams.
The junior scored on a block to put the Flyers up 15-13 and then she set up Alyssa Winner for a kill before stuffing another Big Green kill attempt. The resulting four-point lead was the Flyers' largest of the set, and it allowed them to pull away late for the win.
The second set also started out tight, but Marion Local got a big mid-set run to build a sizable advantage. A kill by Margaret Wuebker put Marion ahead 11-8, and the sophomore's next kill was the meat in a sandwich of aces by Leah Rosenbeck, giving the Flyers a six-point bulge that the Big Green would never threaten.
The Flyers fell behind 3-0 to start the third set, but a kill by Winner and three service winners from Claire Heitkamp quickly put them back on top. From there on the Flyers steadily built their lead on the strength of a strong service game, as the Big Green simply could not pass the ball to their setters. Nicole Schwieterman finally finished off the match in style by drilling a pair of aces.
"We haven't played too many teams of their caliber all year," explained Ottoville coach Susan Jones. "To come in here against a MAC (Midwest Athletic Conference) school was a little intimidating, because we knew they'd be big and we knew they'd be powerful."
Marion coach Amy Steininger was happy to see her squad pull out the win despite eight service errors on the night.
"It took us awhile to get into it, but a win is a win in the tournament, so we're happy with that," said Steininger. "We had more errors in the service game than we usually do, but I thought we served better in the second two games and took them out of their offense a little bit."
St. Henry 3, Delphos Jefferson 0
The Redskins came in riding high after surviving a grueling five-set marathon over Minster on Saturday, but their reward was playing the 21-1 Wildcats, who ended the year as co-champs of the Northwest Conference.
St. Henry, though, had played a much tougher schedule and was clearly more ready for the rigors of tournament volleyball, as it quickly demonstrated when the first whistle blew.
The Wildcats had no answer for the Redskins' heavy hitters, particularly Katie Hoying. The sophomore tallied seven kills in the first set alone, including three early on that staked her team to a lead it would never relinquish. The Wildcats did stay close and pulled to within three at 17-14, but senior Kenzie Bruggeman stepped up and banged three kills late in the set to lead the Redskins to victory.
The second set looked to be a laugher early on, as the Redskins took a commanding 12-2 lead at the outset. The Wildcats didn't quit, though, and took advantage of several Redskins' hitting errors to climb back to even at 18-apiece. Hoying then drilled a kill and Emily Post followed with a scoring block and a kill of her own to put the Redskins up by three, and the Wildcats would never get closer than two points the rest of the way.
St. Henry used a mammoth mid-set run to take full control of the finale. Nursing a 10-9 lead, the Redskins got the serve back after a service error, and Sara Lefeld took full advantage. The junior reeled off eight straight winners to push the St. Henry advantage to 10 points, and Jefferson could not recover.
"We had some opportunities, but I think we were very intimidated by St. Henry," commented Jefferson coach Diane Wilson. "They're great and they've got a nice solid program. The girls came in a little fearful, and they didn't let us get comfortable, and that's what good teams do."
St. Henry coach Lori Schwieterman was glad to see her team shake off its second-set struggles and finish strong.
"I was pleased with the way the girls took control," said Schwieterman. "I think in that second set we got caught sleeping and we made all the mistakes. But I liked the way the girls were aggressive and Katie Hoying really set the tone for the match."
With the battle against neighboring Marion Local on the horizon, Schwieterman says her charges are excited to get a second shot at the Flyers.
"We know we can do it, but we've got to put together a great game," summed up Schwieterman. "We wanted this badly since the MAC game (which Marion won in three sets), and now this is the only game that matters."
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