COLUMBUS GROVE — Sometimes a coach wants their team to play through rough stretches.
Ada volleyball coach Melissa Gossard did just that in Tuesday’s huge Northwest Conference match at Columbus Grove.
The result on Tuesday was a three-set victory for Ada over Columbus Grove, 25-23, 25-23, 25-14, en route to notching the NWC title outright.
However, winning in three straight sets for Ada wasn’t as easy as the outcome might indicate.
Ada came into Tuesday’s match against Columbus Grove with an unblemished conference mark of 7-0. Columbus Grove was sitting in second (tied with Crestview) with a 6-1 NWC record. Ada needed a win to clinch the title outright.
Tuesday’s victory over Columbus Grove (14-5) gives the Ada program three consecutive NWC crowns.
However, it wasn’t until the third set, when Ada (12-4) finally put some separation between it and Columbus Grove.
In the first set, the score was knotted 12 times, before Ada came away with the hard-fought two-point victory.
In the second set, Columbus Grove jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead. However, Ada, behind the dominance of senior middle-hitter Melina Woods, came roaring back to take the second set by the same score of 25-23.
Then, in the third set, Ada took things over as Woods recorded 10 kills to lead the way. Woods will be playing collegiately next year at Canisius College, a Division I school in Buffalo, New York.
On the night, Woods smashed 29 kills, had 17 digs and served up four aces.
“Our serve-receive kind of went wayside, and we just had to bring them back to the focus,” Coach Gossard said. “We don’t take a whole lot of timeouts, because they grow a lot if you let them get themselves out of the hole. That way, you save your timeouts for when they’re needed toward the end of the game.
“I thought Melina did a great job of putting the ball where it was needed. Nicki Lehsten came up with two major blocks in the third set, right when we were on a roll. I thought that was a big turning point in the third set, that really got us going. But, Melina couldn’t be stopped tonight. She did a nice job there a couple times where she saw a hole. … It was like nobody was even there.”
Along with Woods’ big game, Maddie Gossard dished out 26 assists, Olivia Alexander had 18 digs and Kaiti Newland recorded three aces for Ada.
For Columbus Grove, Carlee McCluer had nine kills, while teammate Paige Bellman knocked down seven kills.
“I honestly did not think it would be a three-set win,” Coach Gossard said. “That’s what I’m proud of. We’re peaking at the right time.”
Added Woods, “That was our main goal this season – to be able to win the conference.”
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