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Friday, October 25th, 2013

Momentum swings to Flyers in third set

Division IV Volleyball District at Van Wert

By Gary R. Rasberry

Marion Local's Allie Wendel, 3, and Allie Thobe, 6, celebrate during the Flyers'. . .

VAN WERT - Just when it looked like New Knoxville was in full control of the momentum, Marion Local's volleyball team showed the reason why they are the defending state champions in Division IV.
The Flyers were trailing 6-2 in the third set with the match tied at one-game apiece when Marion Local held New Knoxville to just 20 points over the final two games to win the district championship 25-21, 22-25, 25-17 and 25-9 on Thursday night at The Cougars Den in Van Wert.
Marion Local (24-1) heads to Tippecanoe High School next Thursday for a 6 p.m. regional semifinal matchup against the winner of Saturday's Jackson Center-Russia district final at Troy. The other side of the bracket will pit the winner of the Lehman-Springfield Catholic Central match against the winner of the Fort Loramie-Fayetteville-Perry match.
The rematch from the Midwest Athletic Conference regular season, a three-set sweep by Marion Local, was a tight battle in the opening set with the Flyers winning 25-21 after six ties and three lead changes.
In the second set, New Knoxville jumped out to an early 6-2 advantage before Marion Local rallied to tie and take the lead.
The Flyers looked poised to pull away to a two-game advantage with a 21-18 lead but the Rangers' Madison Lammers served two aces and Rachel Leffel had a big kill and block to put the Rangers up 24-21. Brooke Winner got a sideout for the Flyers with a kill but Lammers hammered a kill of her own to give the Rangers a 25-22 triumph.
"Second game, we just did everything right," said New Knoxville coach Jill Roode. "I don't think we had any service errors in that set and hitting was very consistent. They were playing consistent volleyball the whole time. Haley Horstman is a leader on the court. She played phenomenally in the second (set)."
The Rangers (17-9) kept up the pace, taking a 6-2 lead in the third set after a Horstman block, prompting Flyers' coach Amy Steininger to call a timeout.
"I just told them it was a key moment for our team," said Steininger of her message during the timeout. "We needed to come back and win that third set, so we can win it in four. We knew if we lost that third set, we were going to have to go five to win the championship. I really just challenged the seniors at that time to get a good pass and set."
"We knew we really had to pick it up," said Marion Local senior Gina Kramer. "We weren't really playing our game. We had to pick it up."
Steininger's words of wisdom rang quickly, as Marion Local began to chip away at the deficit. Katie Elking helped the Flyers' cause with a four-point service run to tie the score at 9-9. New Knoxville got the lead back up to 11-9, but after Clara Wuebker scored a kill to make it 11-10 and gave her team the serve, the momentum zoomed in the Flyers' direction.
Wuebker served five straight points to give Marion Local a 15-11 advantage. During the run, the Rangers were called for a hitting violation that stopped play for a discussion. The Rangers, out of timeouts, were unable to get any closer than three points the rest of the set as Kramer, Winner and Hannah Heitbrink pounded kills for the Flyers' 25-17 win.
"I made a coaching error, calling a timeout a little early," said Roode. "The game goes so quick. Again, you go from there and learn."
"When we were getting the ball to our hitters, they were putting the ball away more often than not," said Steininger. "We just had trouble passing for a while."
The fourth set was no contest. Marion Local jumped out to a 6-0 lead, paced by Allie Wendel's two aces. The coup de grace came with Allie Thobe serving as the junior served up nine straight winners, with Wuebker and Kramer providing kills, to give the Flyers a 15-1 advantage before the Rangers could get the sideout.
Marion Local continued to dominate the rest of the way as Winner served an ace to make it match point and Heitbrink scored a kill to clinch the win.
"Everything really picked up after that timeout (in the third set)," said Kramer. "We knew that this was tournament and there's no messing around. We had to pick it up and go."
After trailing 6-2 in the third set, Marion Local held New Knoxville to just 20 points the rest of the way.
"We served particularly tough in that run," said Steininger. "New Knoxville was having trouble with their serve receive. I thought that was the difference at the end of the third set and through the fourth set.
"We expected that tonight," said Steininger of the Rangers' tough play. "We beat them in three in the regular season and it took four tonight. These teams in the MAC, the conference foes, aren't afraid of you. It's hard to beat a good team twice or three times in the same season. We knew it was going to be a challenge."
REGIONAL TICKET INFO - Tickets for the regional semifinal at Tipp City will be sold Monday and Tuesday at the Chickasaw Quik Stop and at the high school office on Wednesday and Thursday. Tickets will also be sold in the junior high before school on Thursday.
Tickets are $6 presale and $8 at the door.
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