CELINA – Celina has a number of weapons and they were on full display in the Bulldogs’ 25-21, 25-13, 25-10 Western Buckeye League victory Thursday night against Bath.
Celina improved to 7-4 and remained unbeaten in the WBL with a 3-0 mark. Bath fell to 2-9 for the season and slipped to 0-3 in league play.
Led by the outstanding hitting of McKenna Black, Maddy Luebke, Kassidy Fark and Hannah Rasawehr and the precision passing of Paige Duncan, the Bulldogs overwhelmed and wore down the inexperienced Wild Kittens.
“We are very fortunate to have a lot of different options and our setter, Paige Duncan can really hit the ball too, Sutter said. “We can use anyone of those players so it is nice we are not limited to one outside hitter.”
But it did take a game for the Bulldogs to begin to assert themselves as a youthful exuberance and excellent defense by Bath gave Celina early problems.
Despite some big hits from Celina’s formidable front line that peppered the defense, the Wild kittens, thanks to some solid digs from Bath’s back line, fended off numerous Bulldog blast to keep the score close.
However, the Bulldogs’ patience and persistence paid off to collect the 25-21 first set win and by the second set, Celina was warmed up and not taking any prisoners.
“They have a lot of good hitters,” Bath head coach Ginger Stahl said. “We struggled mainly in the beginning with our serve-receive early. The first set we hung with them but our serve-receive really hurt us.”
Celina head coach Amy Sutter praised the early effort by Bath and said they outplayed Celina in the first set.
“They certainly were outworking us,” Sutter said. “They were falling over the place making great emergency saves and they kept themselves in the game.
Led by Black’s tremendous hitting and key mental miscues by Bath, the Bulldogs rolled to the easy 25-13 victory. In the second set, Black spearheaded the Celina attack with five kills in the game including a stretch that saw her notch four kills in a 5-0 run that helped secure the win.
By the third set, the Bulldogs were firing on all cylinders and opened the third set with an 8-1 run en route to an easy 25-10 victory.
“I think we are doing a better job of not getting worked up when we are challenged,” Sutter said. “We are doing a better job of getting settled and taking care of the ball and staying focused. We passed really well and our passing got better throughout the night.”
Stahl, who’s roster has two seniors on the squad, said the team is still making too many mental mistakes.
“We are young and trying to piece it all together.” Stahl said.
Black finished with 12 kills and Luebke, Rasewehr and and Fark all finished with nine kills each. For Bath, Kaleigh Ketcham recorded five kills and Annika Heminger had 16 digs and Caitlyn Renner finished with 17 assists.
For the night, Celina had 41 kills.
As Bath learns from the school of hard knocks. Sutter said the Bulldogs are right on schedule and want to continue to improve as they enter the heart of the WBL schedule.
“We suffered an injury against Minster that set us back a little but we are hoping to get good news this week or two,” Sutter said. “We started out super strong this year and it has been a real fun season because they want it and show up every game to work and do what they have to do to win.”
Reach Jose Nogueras at 457-242-0468 or on twitter at @JoseNogueras1