OTTAWA — In the regular season, Lima Central Catholic downed Ada in four sets. But at the Division III district finals, Ada, which look liked a team on a mission, dominated the Thunderbirds in the rematch to record a three-set victory, 25-15, 25-15, 25-15 and collect its first district volleyball title in school history Thursday night.
The Bulldogs advance to the regionals and will face Buckeye Central game at 6 p.m. Thursday at Elida. LCC finishes its season with a 13-13 mark.
“It feels awesome,” Ada head coach Melissa Gossard said. “I feel like I am in a dream right now. It just hasn’t quite hit reality yet. It makes me so proud how hard those girls played. They played with heart tonight.”
LCC head coach Wes Horstman said Ada controlled the momentum the whole match.
“We made a lot of mistakes on our side of the net,” Horstman said. “But they forced a lot of mistakes. Melina Woods is a nice player so are the Gossards so is everyone on their team and they really came out and beat us soundly. They earned the win.”
It was no surprise that Ada senior sensation Melina Woods paved the way with 29 kills, three aces and 16 digs, but Gossard said there were a lot of contributions from players who may not have seen much action during the regular season but stepped up against LCC when it counted.
Gossard also made some adjustments to offset the serving performance of Ellen Dee that was instrumental in LCC’s win over Ada during the regular season.
Dee, who had 14 aces the last time the two teams met, finished with one ace for the night.
With Woods roaming the back row, backing up Morgan Swick and Olivia Alexander, the Bulldogs’ defensive effort neutralized Dee’s sizzling serves. Alexander finished with 13 digs and Maddi Gossard recorded 23 assists.
Also making major contributions to the Bulldog win was the play of freshman Aubrey Madison who provided some key serves and Megan Light who had some key blocks and kills in the third set.
“We watched them (LCC) the other night so we tweaked it where we wanted Melina or a girl who normally doesn’t play, Morgan Swick in there,” Gossard said. “We looked at our two best passers on the team …. We felt the need to put Morgan and Melina right in that six spot, right in the center of the court.”
Gossard added that the Bulldogs’ serving was designed to be placed in specific spots in order to keep the LCC offense off balance.
“We are very, very good serving team,” Gossard said. “We are not going to serve hard but we are going to put the ball where you will not be able to pass it and for us to have just couple of missed serves, I focus on that. My focus is defense, no unforced errors and let them (the opponent) make the mistakes.”
Gossard also pointed to the Bulldogs’ ability to avoid the unforced error and has preached that all season.
However, a host of unforced errors by LCC hampered the Thunderbirds’ cause throughout the night and prevented them from ever establishing a consistent offense. Senior Mornay McBroom led the Thunderbirds in kills with nine and she also recorded two blocks. Victoria Lauk notched 17 digs and Courtney Hahn finished with 19 assists.
Horstman was disappointed with the loss but focused on the positive and the successful journey the Thunderbirds had to get to the district finals, considering they finished the regular season with a 10-12 mark.
“We had three quality wins against Miller City , Continental and Columbus Grove and those are three really good teams,” Horstman said. “We beat three good teams to get to this point and you kind of have to hold onto that and not the feeling that you are feeling right now of getting stomped.”
New Bremen 3, St. Henry 1
VAN WERT — The Cardinals advanced to the Division IV regionals with a 25-18, 25-18, 21-25, 25-11 victory.
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468 or on twitter at @JoseNogueras1