By RYAN HINES
ST. MARYS — Celina had no problem rising to the occasion
with the outright Western Buckeye League title on the line as
the Bulldogs ripped through the Roughriders, 15-6, 15-4 to pick
up their 31st straight WBL win and third straight outright WBL
The Bulldogs are now 17-3 overall and finished a perfect 9-0
in the WBL. St. Marys will have to settle for third place in
the league at 7-2 (13-7 overall) while Defiance checks in for
a second-place finish at 8-1 in the WBL (13-7 overall).
“This is an exciting time for the girls and these girls
all have something to be proud of and be thankful of,”
said Celina head coach Nikki Taylor-Etzler. “We have so
much respect for St. Marys and their program and every time
that we face them, it’s going to be a big game. With the
title on the line tonight, it was just great to see the girls
come out the way that they did. This is the best we have played
this year and we picked a good time to put it all together.”
“Being a senior and ending our final season with another
WBL title is just an awesome feeling,” said senior Megan
“We were focused and confident going into the match tonight,”
said Celina senior Sarah Lange. “We played well once the
game started and we never let up. Everybody felt good.”
“Nikki Taylor-Etzler does a great job with that program
in Celina,” complimented St. Marys head coach Monica Vanderhorst.
“Celina plays good defense and they keep coming after
you at the net. Their size played a big role and was a big advantage
for them and their setting was right on the mark each time for
their hitters. We played well to get to this point in the season
where we could have won a piece of the league title but we came
up a little short.”
The crowd had the bleachers filled nearly an hour before the
varsity match, but once the varsity hit the floor, only the
Green and White fans were left smiling.
Celina played its best overall match of the season and patiently
dissected St. Marys behind a team that was clearly focused and
Although the St. Marys fans were raucous to start the game,
a trio of Celina seniors quickly quieted the Roughriders student
section by reeling off four straight points off the serve of
Traci Stoner. Stoner had an ace, Sarah Lange had a kill, Tricia
VanderHorst and a St. Marys error accounted for the quick Bulldogs
A Celina error broke the serve of Stoner and another Bulldogs
error gave St. Marys its first point of the match before a Roughriders
error padded the Celina lead to 5-1.
Another Celina error gave St. Marys its second point and an
Emily Matthews kill closed the Bulldogs advantage to 5-3.
Celina freshman Betsy Hone blasted a kill to make it 6-3 and
Lange added an ace before a St. Marys error gave the Bulldogs
a commanding 8-3 lead causing the St. Marys bench to call timeout.
An ace and a kill from Matthews got the Roughriders as close
as 9-5 before Celina took control of the match.
Hone served three straight points for Celina as two kills from
Lange and one kill from Kelsey Fleck extended the lead for the
Bulldogs to 12-5.
Krissy Haines, who was contained for most of the night, scored
St. Marys’ last point in the first game on a kill and
Megan Harner served the game out for Celina. Harner had an ace,
Jamie Siefker had a kill and a Roughriders error ended game
Celina led from wire-to-wire in game two, as well, behind another
quick start. Traci Stoner’s serving led to a 5-0 lead
as VanderHorst, Kelsey Fleck and Siefker highlighted the quick
spurt on hard-hit kills forcing a St. Marys timeout.
It was frustrating most of the night for Haines on offense because
of Celina’s size, but back-to-back solo blocks gave St.
Marys two desperately need points to trim the lead to 5-2.
The two rivals split the next four points in the match to make
it 7-4 before Celina played with an intensity that had been
unmatched this season.
Hone again was effective serving leading to six straight points
as the Celina offensive attack began to get relentless. Siefker,
Lange and Stoner each took turns with devastating kills while
Hone added an ace to spark the run.
Haines broke the Celina serve with her fifth kill in the match,
but Stoner took over serve laced an ace and watched Lange pick
up a kill to win the second game, the match and the league title.
Kelsey Fleck, Lange and Siefker led a balanced offensive attack
with a combination of 18 kills while VanderHorst, Hone and Stoner
combined for another eight kills. Stoner also had three aces
while playing a flawless setting game setting up the powerful
hitters for kills.
“We’re so lucky to have a setter like Traci because
she can do so much and she does so much for our offense,”
said Taylor-Etzler. “She spread the ball around the net
and gave our hitters good opportunities for good swings.”
A very strong game for Celina after a day of practice in which
the second team for the Bulldogs beat the starters three straight
games leaving a sour taste in Taylor-Etzler and the players’
“After the way that we practiced yesterday, I think that
we all knew that we had to step it up,” stated Stoner.
“I think that the whole team was just more focused on
the game against St. Marys during practice on Wednesday instead
of practicing and that was a big reason for the poor practice,”
said Kelsey Fleck.
“I went home and thought a lot about the practice that
we had on Wednesday but after reevaluating the situation, I
thought that our leaders would get the team ready for a big
game like this,” concluded Taylor-Etzler. “Everyone
on the team was just so focused for the game. These girls wanted
it so bad and they’ve been visualizing it so much and
I think that their games just came together tonight.”