By Ryan Hines
LIMA -- It's been pretty easy for the Celina volleyball team thus far in the sectional tournament at Lima Senior High School.
After an easy three-game win over St. Marys on Saturday, Celina took the court again on Tuesday and cruised past an overmatched Van Wert team in three games, 25-9, 25-17 and 25-16.
The Bulldogs (19-5) will now play on Thursday in district semifinal action against Shawnee back at Lima Senior with a 7 p.m. start.
Celina came out strong in the first game dominating play on both sides of the net but struggled to maintain consistency in the final two games when it was clear that the Cougars were no match for the Bulldogs.
"At times we looked really good tonight but then at other times we played with some mental lapses and just took for granted that they weren't going to return some of our hits," said Celina head coach De De Stoner. "Sometimes it's hard to keep our focus and intensity for the entire match but that's what we have to be able to do is keep the intensity no matter what the score is and no matter who we're playing." Despite the lop-sided loss, Van Wert head coach Judy Crites was complimentary in defeat.
"Celina is a good team and we know that, so I think that we came out a little tight from the start," said Crites. "We practiced getting ready for a big block but it just took us longer to get settled down and a lot of the credit for that goes to Celina. When you are tight and nervous from the start, the next thing you know is that you're down big early and it's so hard to recover from big deficits."
Celina was the aggressor in the early going as Liz Homan and Kylie Dorsten were too much for Van Wert at the net. Homan had two kills and two blocks for points while Dorsten added a pair of kills to help the Bulldogs build a 9-1 advantage. The eight-point advantage for Celina continued until midway through the first game when Julie Klosterman served nine straight winners for the Bulldogs for a 22-5 lead. From there Celina coasted for the 16-point game-one victory.
Another strong start put Van Wert away early in game two for Celina as the Green and White pulled out to a 13-2 lead. Homan had six service points and Lindsay Scheer added five more service winners during the early spurt.
With a double-digit lead in game two, Celina began to lose its intensity allowing Van Wert to creep back into the match. Van Wert got as close as seven points late in the match at 21-14 when Stoner called a timeout. That was as close as the Cougars got, though, before Celina won the second game by eight points.
A third straight strong start to a game gave the Bulldogs an 11-3 lead in the third contest. Celina's size advantage at the net was too much for Van Wert as Homan, Dorsten, Betsy Hone and Cenzie Yoder all contributed hard kills for the early lead.
A mini Van Wert spurt late in the third game got the Celina lead down to just seven points, but Hone and Scheer blasted kills to put an exclamation point on the three-game victory for the Bulldogs.
"We started strong in the games, but we lost focus at times and we can't afford to do that as the postseason continues for us," said Stoner. "Overall, we played well, but the intensity just isn't there at all times for us. We have to have it."