By Gary R. Rasberry
PAULDING -- There is always a worry in the back of the mind of any coach if his or her team faces an opponent several times during a season.
For Parkway to go to Division III district final on Saturday, Todd Henkle's team had to beat Coldwater for the fourth time this season.
The only change from the first three meetings was that this match did not go the minimum amount of games.
Parkway defeated Coldwater for the fourth time this season three games to one at the district semifinal at Paulding High School. The Panthers won the first game 25-23 with the Cavaliers (12-13) taking Game 2 25-19. The Panthers (15-9) took the final games 25-17 and 25-16, advancing to the district final at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Napoleon.
The Panthers won the match with a bend but not break style of play. In the three games Parkway won, Coldwater was able to come back to keep it close before the Panthers picked up the win. "I think what hurt us coming into this match was we had an easy win on Saturday (against a winless Fairview)," said Henkle. "Coldwater played two pretty intense matches, so I think, as far as preparation, they were a little bit up there and it took us a bit of time to finally get rolling."
The match also brought together some of the hardest hitters in the area. Parkway had Rebekah Roehm, who provided the hard spike for points all evening for the Panthers, finishing with 26 kills.
Coldwater countered with a trio of hard hitters. Karla Niekamp, coming back from an injury, finished with 13 kills on the match but was shut out in the fourth game. Picking up the slack was Renee Koesters, who finished with 10 kills. Lindsey Bruns added 10 kills and also helped defensively with several key blocks.
"Those two girls (Bruns and Koesters, who also blocked well) are tall and they can block really well.," said Henkle. "The thing is we had to find where they didn't have a good block and capitalize."
In the first game, Coldwater trailed 14-7 early but slowly came back to tie the match at 22-all before Parkway was able to get a point and the serve back to score the last three matches.
In Game 2, Parkway again took a decent lead at 13-9, only to have the Cavaliers come back and tie things at 18-all. Betsy Homan came up and served a strong series of points, getting an ace to go with kills from Bruns and Tiffany Uhlenhake to run the score to 23-18. Parkway got a point back but Bruns got a kill for game point and a Panther hitting error evened the match at one game apiece.
Parkway recovered and stormed back in game three. Roehm served up a gem of a rally as the Panthers went from leading 10-7 to leading 17-7 on her service run. Parkway got a pair of kills from Laura Art and several Coldwater hitting errors during the run. Parkway got as close as 23-17 in the game but Parkway got kills from Roehm and Erica Yoder to make it 2-1 in the match.
The last game saw Parkway jump out to a 7-1 lead with Roehm continuing to pound the ball. Coldwater could only get as close as 12-6 before the Panthers pulled away. The Cavaliers made more playing errors in the fourth game to compound the pain.
"We've struggled with that all year," said Coldwater coach Jeanette Vaughn. "It's hard to keep your head on straight and move on to the next play when you're thinking about the mistake before."