By RYAN HINES
HAVILAND — Scouting an opponent can become an integral
ingredient for a team in any sport, but even the best scouting
doesn’t help a team that doesn’t execute the keys
from the scouting report.
That wasn’t a problem for Parkway on Tuesday as the Panthers
executed head coach Todd Henkle’s game plan to the tune
of a 15-13, 15-9 win over Coldwater in Division III district
semifinal action at Wayne Trace High School.
The Panthers (9-14) now play Swanton (15-7) on Saturday at Napoleon’s
Grand Canyon at 2 p.m. with a district title on the line. Coldwater
bows out of tournament play with a 13-11 record.
“We had a pretty good scouting report on what we wanted
to do to them off of tape from earlier in the season and we
found what we thought were some weakness in their serve receive
and we tried to take advantage of those,” said Henkle.
“You can do all the preparation you want, but it’s
the girls that execute the game plan and we executed well tonight.
I told the girls that we are a good team when we decide that
we want to play and show we can play. I don’t care what
our record is we played with guts and determination and it paid
Precision serving and outstanding defense paved the way for
the Panthers to pull somewhat of an upset over the Cavaliers.
Coldwater had beaten Parkway earlier in the season 15-8, 10-15,
Despite having already lost to Coldwater this season, Parkway
was in no way intimidated on Tuesday and it showed in their
play as both teams dueled to a 9-9 tie in game one with neither
team holding more than a three-point lead.
Parkway broke the 9-9 tie behind back-to-back passing and hitting
errors on Coldwater to give the Panthers an 11-9 advantage leading
to a Cavaliers timeout. Another Cavaliers passing error after
the timeout was followed by a kill from Parkway’s Cassie
Steinbrunner putting the Panthers on top 13-9.
Behind the serving of Coldwater’s Karla Niekamp, Parkway
made two serve-receiving errors and Cavaliers sophomore Brittany
Klenke had two kills to knot things at 13-13 leading to a Panthers
timeout. It was the seventh and final time that the score was
tied in the first game.
Parkway’s Rebekah Roehm had a kill to get the serve back
for the Panthers and then Amanda Jutte had a kill of her own
to make it game point before Roehm ended the first game with
“We just can’t seem to get the big point when we
need to have it and that has been our problem all year long,”
said Coldwater head coach Jeanette Vaughn. “We had many
opportunities to put the first game away, but we lack that killer
instinct that you need in those situations.”
The disappointing finish from game one carried over to game
two for the Cavaliers as Parkway built a 12-0 lead.
“We didn’t do anything right early in the second
game,” admitted Vaughn. “In those first 12 points
of the second game we couldn’t pass the ball, hit the
ball or serve receive the ball. It was a total mental breakdown.
You can’t dig a hole that big against good teams.”
“Coldwater is a good team and I think that was kind of
a fluky situation where we did serve them tough, but they shanked
some balls and got in a hole,” said Henkle.
Jutte served the Panthers to the first five points before Coldwater
tried to stop the run with a timeout. Jutte had an ace, and
Emily Snyder had a kill and a block to highlight the early part
of the run.
Six more points from Parkway to make it 11-0 led to another
Coldwater timeout and the Panthers added the 12th point before
the Cavaliers could even dent the scoreboard.
“I think that winning the first game with the intensity
in that game carried over to the second match early and gave
us a jump start,” said Henkle.
Once Coldwater scored its first point, the Cavaliers reeled
off nine straight points of their own to make it 12-9 behind
the play of Katie Homan and Alyssa Vogel. Homan had two kills
and a block during the Coldwater comeback while Vogel added
a block and a kill of her own.
That was as close as Coldwater could get, though, as Parkway
scored the final three points in succession off of Deidre Adams’
serve. A kill from Abby Harner was sandwiched between two Adams
aces to clinch the two-game victory.
Adams was lethal with her serve all night with three aces to
pace the Parkway service game that totaled six aces and caused
constant scrambling for the Cavaliers defense.
“I don’t know if it was their good serving or our
poor serve receive, but we just couldn’t serve receive
tonight,” said Vaughn.
Snyder and Roehm put good contact on their spikes all night
picking up 10 and nine kills, respectively to lead Parkway while
Harner had five kills and Jutte with four kills.
“It all came down to our scouting report and putting the
right girls in the right positions,” noted Henkle. “We
knew some of Coldwater’s tendencies and we executed well.
Snyder and Roehm played exceptional for us and they scored some
Jackie Kahlig was the top hitter for Coldwater with 11 kills
to go along with three blocks while Niekamp, Klenke and Homan
each had five kills.
Saturday will mark the first time that the Panthers have been
to the district finals since 1998 at Findlay.
“This is a huge win for us and I told the girls that they
are the ones that get to enjoy this type of experience because
I’ve been there before,” said Henkle. “Getting
to where we want to go is going to be very tough, but it’s
achievable if the girls all believe.”