By Randy Bruns
FORT RECOVERY -- There was an ambush at the Fort Site Fieldhouse Thursday night, and the state's number-one ranked small school volleyball team was the unwilling victim.
The Fort Recovery Indians put an exclamation point on their recent resurgence with a resounding four-game thrashing of the Marion Local Flyers, who are ranked atop the Division IV coaches poll and had not lost to a fellow small school team this year.
Fort Recovery upped its overall record to 13-6 and its Midwest Athletic Conference mark to 4-2, while Marion fell to 15-3 on the year and 4-2 in league play.
The win is certainly the season's high point thus far for the Indians, who have battled through a roller-coaster year and are playing under their third different head coach in the last month.
"This was huge," said coach Diana Rammel of her Indians. "They needed to get the monkey off their backs and tonight they did it. They've been practicing hard and it's really paid off." Things weren't so rosy on the other side of the net, where Marion coach Amy Steininger saw her team give a lackluster effort in all phases of the game.
"We definitely had our worst match of the year," said Steininger. "We couldn't pass, we couldn't set, we couldn't serve, and we couldn't play defense. Every aspect of our game was off tonight. (Fort Recovery) is a great team -- they're tall and athletic, and we knew that coming in. We knew we would have to play well to beat them tonight and we just collapsed."
The Indians took control of the first game by scoring six unanswered points to turn a one-point lead into a seven-point bulge at 14-7. The Flyers answered with three straight markers, but the hosts responded by taking six of the next seven points to give them a 20-11 advantage. The Indians then proceeded to steamroll to a 25-14 victory.
The game-one momentum looked to be carrying over to the second game, as Fort Recovery charged out to a 10-3 lead early on. Marion came back quickly, though, and took nine of the next 10 points to forge ahead by one at 12-11. Marion later led 21-19, but three straight errors gave Fort Recovery a one-point lead, and the Purple and White surged to a 25-23 win that put them up two games to none.
The Flyers appeared to right the ship in the third game, as they went on an 8-2 mid-game run to push ahead 22-12 en route to a 25-14 win.
The momentum proved to be short-lived, however, as the Indians quickly took care of business in game four. A 9-3 run at the start of the game set the tone, though, the Flyers later managed to trim their deficit to four at 11-7. The hosts proved to be too tough, though, as they blitzed the Flyers from all angles and won going away by a score of 25-15.
Fort Recovery's Tiffany Gaerke had a monster night at the net, as the senior smacked 21 kills, including seven in the decisive fourth game. Fellow middle hitter Lauren Wenning proved a nice complement to Gaerke, as she banged nine kills of her own and earned high praise from her coach.
"She was my hero tonight," said Rammel of Wenning. "She's always been a great player, but she's never had that one match to push her over the top. Tonight she played tremendous volleyball."
The Indians will get a week off before returning to the court, as they travel to New Bremen on Thursday to play the Cardinals.
The Flyers have a grueling week coming up, as they travel to Vandalia to take on Butler on Monday, head to New Bremen on Tuesday, and host St. John's on Thursday.