By Mark Ruschau
ST. HENRY -- As most local volleyball fans know the perennial power the St. Henry Redskins have stumbled out of the gates to start the 2006 season losing five of the first nine, albeit four of the five losses have come against Division I teams.
During a practice session last Saturday morning, Redskins boss Lori Schwieterman and her charges looked at the schedule and decided if they were going to make something out of the season they would have to start now.
The upcoming six-game slate for the Redskins includes three against state-ranked teams -- Lehman, Versailles and a possible matchup against Old Fort at the Bath Invitational -- and a road trip to New Bremen for a tough Midwest Athletic Conference match.
The Redskins took the first step on the turnaround trail Tuesday night as they rallied from a two-game deficit to defeat the Division IV fourth-ranked Lehman Cavaliers 17-25, 15-25, 25-21, 25-19, 15-6 at the Middle School Gymnasium.
St. Henry, the seventh-ranked team in the state in Division IV, is back to 500 at 5-5 while Lehman falls to 5-3 with the loss. "We talked Saturday during practice that this was going to be our turnaround week," said Schwieterman. "We decided that starting with this week we were going to push for everything to get a win and then take them one at a time. This is going to be our turnaround week that will define our season.
"I think the girls did a great job of stepping up tonight," continued Schwieterman. "We started the first game tonight with a new lineup that has never played together before and we just practiced it just a couple of days this week and it took them awhile to get in the groove. Once we got things worked out, we did a great job of stopping Lehman."
Not necessarily stopping the Lehman hitting attack, but slowing it down was the key to the St. Henry comeback. In the first two games of the match, Lehman outscored the home team 38-20 at the net. In the final three games, St. Henry held its own, actually winning the battle at the net, 40-32.
"Our problem the first two games was that we did not pass the ball very well," said Schwieterman. "We just didn't get the ball to our targets, but once we finally starting passing well things turned around. We started to grind away and once we won the third game, we talked about momentum and we just kept talking about taking the momentum to them and that really helped us."
St. Henry stole the momentum from Lehman at the end of game three, trailing 22-21, the Redskins scored the last four points of the game on a pair of Rachel Schmackers kills and and pair of blocks by Betsy Hoying.
St. Henry took the momentum from the dramatic game-three win into game four as it scored 12 of the first 17 points and Lehman came no closer then five the rest of the game.
In the fifth and deciding game it was all St. Henry from the get go as the Redskins scored eight of the first 10 points to take an 8-2 lead and Lehman came no closer then five the rest of the way. Rachel Schmackers had three kills to lead the spurt during the first eight points.
"If we don't pass, we don't hit. It's that simple," said Schwieterman. "If the pass is there and we get the ball to the hitters, we have the hitters. Our defense, especially the blockers really stepped up and we were able to get touches on a lot more balls. We always talk about bettering the ball, moving the ball towards the net, that's what we did, we just took care of the ball."