By Gary R. Rasberry
ANNA -- With both teams undefeated and ranked number one in their respective divisions, the Marion Local-Anna volleyball match on Tuesday had the makings of an all-out barnburner.
Instead, in a period of an hour and nine minutes, the Rockets dominated the game, beating the Flyers in three straight games to get the win.
Anna, the top team in the coaches' Division III poll, goes to 9-0 on the season while Marion Local, tops in the Division IV poll, drops to 8-1.
"We knew this was going to be a hard one," said Anna coach Karen Zumberger, who guided the Rockets to the Division III final four last season. "Marion, with them coming in seeded number one (in Division IV), we knew it was going to be a tough game. The girls were really looking forward to it. They came out and put it all out there."
"We had a rough night tonight," said Flyers coach Amy Steineger. "Anna is a good team and they came to play tonight." All three games -- with scores of 25-19, 25-14 and 25-22 -- were close throughout. The Flyers had leads in all three games, only to have the Rockets come back and take control.
The case was no more true than in the second game. The Flyers led 13-12 with the serve, only to have Rachel Billing score a kill to tie things up.
All-Ohioan Kelli Barhorst came up to serve and rattled off six straight points to put the Rockets up 19-13. Billing had three kills while Laura Gehret added a kill and a block during the run. The Flyers' Megan Barhorst blocked to get the point and the serve back, but the serve by Nicole Schaefer was out, giving Anna the ball back for the rest of the game. Kelsie Zumberger served out the game with the Rockets getting kills by Barhorst, Billing and Lauren Fogt to wrap it up.
"I thought our serve receive broke down," said Steineger. "Especially in the second game. The second game was tied 13-all and we lost 25-14. (Anna) went on two big runs. By the time you know it, the game is over. We have to be able to pass better."
In game three, the Flyers looked to get back into the game. Heidi Elking served up a solid round to put the Flyers up 5-2 early. Marion Local held tough through the middle of the game and the Flyers were up 14-10 with the serve.
Anna, however, rallied. Billing, Gehret and Barhorst began to crank up the spikes once again, allowing the Rockets to tie the game at 21-all. Zumberger dinked one away from the Flyer defense to give the Rockets the lead and Billing followed with a stuff block to make it 23-21 before a hitting error gave Marion the ball back.
Billing quickly recovered with a kill to give Anna match point and the serve. Marion compounded its troubles by being unable to get the ball over in three hits to end the match.
"They stayed focused," said coach Zumberger. "I don't think it was anything I taught them. They're relaxed out there. They don't get too emotional out there. That's something we had at the end of last season and we brought it back this year."
"We've got to get the pass up to our setters," said Steineger. "We just couldn't get into the flow of our offense tonight."
The Flyers won the junior varsity contest in two games.
Marion looks to rebound on Thursday, hosting Parkway in a Midwest Athletic Conference matchup.