By Lyle Kittle
COLDWATER -- Ottawa-Glandorf showed why it's 18-0 record is legitimate, and Coldwater (9-9) showed that it can play with the likes of the Titans despite having two key members of the team on the sidelines.
O-G put together three tremendous performances to win the Invitational, and Coldwater delivered convincing wins over Wayne Trace and Wapakoneta, before losing to O-G in the finals.
The Titans beat Wayne Trace in the opening round, 28-18, 25-6; stopped Wapakoneta 26-6, 25-18 in the second round, and finished the day with a 25-18, 25-14 win over the host Cavs.
The Cavaliers opened with a win over the Redskins, 25-14, 25-16; and beat the Raiders 25-19, 25-21 before losing to the Titans.
Neither the Raiders nor the Redskins matched up well with O-G or Coldwater, meaning the more hotly contested games were likely to be the final games of the day, but without Karla Niekamp and Brittany Klenke, the Cavs found themselves even more overmatched than may have been expected. The Titans kept the Cavaliers from stringing together points during the match, and put together some runs of their own.
"A problem we've had this year has been inconsistency," Coldwater coach Jeannete Vaughn said. "We'll put together five good points, and then make four or five mistakes. If we can eliminate 50 percent of our errors, we'll be all right. We just make too many mistakes."
O-G led 5-4 in the first game when freshman sensation Madalyn Shalter scored and got the serve back for the Titans. Thee consecutive hitting errors by Coldwater pushed the Titans' lead to 9-5, and more errors and a smash by Shelly Bellman moved the lead to 13-7, and then O-G expanded the lead to 16-8 behind 6-2 senior Lynne Sunderhaus.
"When the season started, we had one big hitter in Shelly," said Titans' coach Ann Ellerbrock. "Madalyn has added a new dimension because she attracts attention and that's opened things up for the other girls. Shelly's adjusted well to sharing the load by doing some other things that she can do to make them more effective."
Although Coldwater kept battling, the rally scoring kept the Cavaliers from making up any ground, and the Titans put the first game away, 25-18, when Bellman hammered home the winner.
The Cavs found themselves forced to overcome a deficit early in the second game after Bellman and Sara Moorman catapulted the Titans to a 10-3 lead. With two of their best (and tallest) not playing and the Titans' big front line controlling the net, the Cavs couldn't get back and the Titans took the final game, 25-14.
"We got off to a slow start against Wayne Trace today," Ellerbrock said. "With a 90-minute bus trip, it can be hard to get going. We're glad they changed the format so we didn't face Coldwater first. We needed to get settled and get things going before we faced a team like that."
Coldwater's opening victory over Wapakoneta was paced by setter Amanda Harting, who was able to consistently supply Lindsay Bruns and Renee Koesters with the sets needed to pound home winners against the Redskins' defense.
"Amanda is really overlooked," Vaughn said. "She hustles, she works hard, she has to be on the court. She's our quarterback and our leader. Earlier this year, she wasn't on the court a couple of times, and the team just fell apart."
Koesters got Coldwater's early lead for them, and Kayleigh Klenke's serving helped the Cavaliers overcome a brief Redskin rally. Hits by Koesters and Tiffany Uhlenhake helped build the lead further, and Uhlenhake's service ace stretched the Coldwater lead to 16-11, the biggest of the game to that point.
The Redskins picked up a single point and then committed four straight hitting errors -- three off serves of Danielle Goubeaux -- to help the Cavaliers increase their lead to 20-12. Klenke served Coldwater to a 24-13 lead and after a kill by Wapakoneta's Kim Wachauf, Bruns drove a shot to the center of the Redskins' defense for the winner.
In the second game, a kill by Koesters and a pair of blocks by Kara Kahlig gave Coldwater a 3-1 lead. The serves of Goubeaux and the frontcourt smashes of Bruns stretched the Cavs lead to 7-1.
Betsy Homan's ace made it 12-4, and a number of Wapak hitting errors -- including two serves into the net -- finished things off, with the final two Coldwater points coming courtesy of Redskins' mistakes at the net in the 25-16 win.
Wayne Trace gave Coldwater a much stiffer battle than Wapak did in the opening round. The Raiders' biggest weakness in the first game was their serve receive, and the Cavaliers took advantage of it. Back-to-back aces by Uhlenhake gave the Cavs a 7-3 lead, and two more aces by Bruns made Coldwater's lead 16-10. Homan aced the Raiders' defense later and Bruns won the game with another ace that made the score 25-19. In the second gane, it was a block by Koesters on an attempted kill by Brooke Rosswurm that won it, 25-21.