Friday, September 28th, 2012
By Ryan Hines
Bulldogs bounced from contention in WBL title race
  VAN WERT - Celina's dream for an unprecedented fifth straight Western Buckeye League volleyball championship was shattered on Thursday.
The Bulldogs gave an uninspiring effort on the road at Van Wert and the Cougars won the matchup between the two teams tied for second in the WBL standings, 25-22, 26-24, 22-25 and 25-14.
Celina (7-7, 3-2 WBL) isn't mathematically eliminated from contending for the WBL title, but Ottawa-Glandorf (11-3, 5-0 WBL) losing twice in the final four games is highly unlikely. This is also the first time since 2005 that Celina has lost more than one WBL match in a single season.
"Our girls wanted to go out and win the league again this year, but after the loss to O-G and tonight's loss, that isn't going to happen now," said Celina's head coach Amy Sutter.
While the frustration was evident for Sutter, Van Wert's head coach Vicki Smith was elated to have beaten the four-time defending WBL champs.
"I would have to look deep into our record books, but I think this is the first time that Van Wert has beaten Celina in volleyball," said Smith. "I'm extremely proud of my girls. We didn't always play great, but we battled against a good team and laid it all out on the line."
Celina served up four aces in the early stages of the opening game and the Bulldogs had what looked like a commanding lead at 16-10.
Following a timeout, Van Wert (8-5, 4-1 WBL) immediately rallied behind the hitting of Alexis Dowdy, who hammered home four kills to help the Cougars to an 8-2 run that tied the match at 18-18. The opening game was tied three more times before the Cougars took the lead for good. The Cougars' Ashlee Dowdy blasted a kill to give her team a 21-20 lead and she went on to add three more kills as Van Wert closed the first game with a 5-2 run.
"I thought that we were confident coming into tonight, but I think coming from behind to win the first game really set the tone for us," said Smith.
Van Wert carried the momentum from winning the first game into the second game as the Cougars led 14-10 at the midway point. Celina's Emily Dorsten and Madison Weininger each had solid service runs while Michaela Wenning added four kills and two stuff blocks to spark a 10-1 run that left the Bulldogs in front 20-15.
Celina made it all the way to match point and held a 24-19 lead when momentum shifted back to Van Wert. The Cougars won seven of the next eight points behind the hitting of Sydney Collins and a trio of Bulldogs' errors to close out game two with a victory.
"We just lost confidence there at the end of the second game. We made a mistake and we let it carry over to the next several points and we could never recover," said Sutter.
Game three was tight throughout as both teams held the lead at several stages, but never by more than two points. Van Wert was nursing a 22-21 lead when Brooke Staugler served up an ace to tie the score. The Bulldogs went on to win the final four points of game three as a pair of Cougars' errors and a Wenning kill forced the two WBL rivals to a fourth game.
The Cougars led wire-to-wire in game four, but they didn't take control until after a big run started with Van Wert holding a slim 12-11 lead. A trio of Celina unforced errors and three kills by Alexis Dowdy sparked a nine-point run that gave the Cougars a 21-11 advantage. Celina was never closer than nine the rest of the way.
"We really didn't show a lot of fight tonight and that's what's really disappointing to me," said Sutter. "We didn't fight through the adversity we had on the floor and Van Wert did. That was the difference in the match tonight."
Celina will look to prevent a three-game losing streak on Saturday morning at the Crestview Invitational.

The Western Buckeye League volleyball standings:
Team  WBL  Overall
Ottawa-Glandorf  5-0  11-3
Van Wert  4-1  8-5
Celina  3-2  7-7
Elida  3-2  9-6
Shawnee  3-2  3-7
Defiance  3-2  6-11
St. Marys  2-3  5-10
Wapakoneta  2-3  10-5
Kenton  0-5  0-8
Bath  0-5  4-11
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