LIMA—The line between good teams and great teams is usually determined late. Late in a set, late in a match, or late in the season. The team that performs late will be the team that sets itself apart from the rest.
On Tuesday night, the Lima Central Catholic volleyball team did its best to do just that.
After dropping the first two sets of its match to Ottawa-Glandorf, LCC rattled off three close wins in a row to defeat the Titans in five sets.
“It was our ugliest and prettiest game all in one night,” LCC head coach Wes Horstman said. “After falling behind 0-2, and then coming back to win three close sets, that’s how you should fight. That’s how you should do it every time.”
Ottawa-Glandorf jumped out to a quick two set lead after winning a strong first game 25-16, then rolling over LCC in the second set 25-11. Freshman Olivia Hermiller and senior Kristi Jerwers led an aggressive offensive attack for the Titans that in the early-going seemed to overwhelm the T-Birds.
That’s when LCC’s defense began to turn things around.
LCC jumped out to an 8-4 lead in the third set, and never fell behind the rest of the match. Suddenly, the T-Birds were matching O-G’s suffocating defense which helped the Titans dominate the first two sets.
A group of girls at the net for LCC, that included Sarah Pajka, Shanna Farler and Molly Clements, began to quickly pressure the O-G defense into mistakes.
LCC took both the third and fourth matches 25-23, stifling O-G runs late in both games to stay alive. The two teams battled back and forth in the fifth set, until LCC emerged with a 15-13 win to clinch the comeback.
“Coming out in the first two games was really frustrating because nobody was moving and we couldn’t get anything done,” Pajka said. “We always think of O-G as a big game and they’re a team we really want to be prepared for.”
“Getting (the third set win), it definitely gave us more confidence,” Farler said. “We started to play like we should have played the whole game. It got us really hyped-up for the rest of the match and helped us win.”
Sarah Pajka finished with a total of 17 kills, and the T-Birds’ only ace. Farler finished with nine kills.
Also helping to energize LCC’s comeback were Lauren Jennings (seven kills, game-winning point in fourth set) and Sydney Mohler (36 assists), whose big plays late in the game gave her team some much needed help.
Meredith Niese and Mackenzie Conley were leaders of LCC’s air-tight defense late in the game, finishing with 16 and 12 digs, respectively.
Kaela Croy, Kelsey Baldwin, and Kayla Eastman all made big contributions throughout the game for the Titans that made their defense almost impenetrable.
“Give LCC my congratulations,” Ottawa-Glandorf head coach Ann Ellerbrock said. “They worked hard for the entire game. Our girls know what they have to do from here on out.”