SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — Shawnee has never won a Western Buckeye League title in volleyball.
On Thursday, the Indians, sporting an unblemished 4-0 mark in the league had a chance to put themselves in the driver’s seat to collect their first ever crown this year if they could beat Ottawa-Glandorf, who also had a 4-0 mark, in a Western Buckeye League clash Thursday.
Back by a raucous crowd and youthful exuberance, the Indians notched the first set, 25-17 and appeared poised to take it to the next level. However, the Titans’ veteran savvy would kick in after the dropping the opening set and Ottawa-Glandorf’s experience would trump Shawnee’s enthusiasm as the Titans would win the next three sets, to score the 3-1 (17-25, 25-23, 25-17, 25-16) victory.
The Titans improve to 5-0 on the year and 11-3 for the season. Shawnee, suffering its first league loss, falls to 4-1 on the year and 10-3 for the year.
“They came to play,” Titan head coach Ann Ellerbrock said. “They want that WBL title just like any one who would want it and it really showed in the first game on how they were fighting for every point.”
It was in the second set that the Titans gained momentum of the contest when they edged Shawnee, 25-23. In that pivotal second set, the Titans rallied to score the final two points to secure the important win.
The second set win not only gave Ottawa-Glandorf the necessary momentum to win the final two sets, 25-17 and 25-16 but the veteran Titans did it by making adjustments defensively and taking advantage of Shawnee’s miss hits.
“I think the errors started adding up against us,” Shawnee head coach Amy Knight said. “A missed serve here you are able to overcome but several missed serves in the third and fourth set didn’t help us.”
Knight added that the team came out with the confidence to win and said this is a setback but that does not deter the Indians from looking to accomplish more in the second half of the season.
“We did make some adjustments,” Ellerbrock said. “We can’t swing and with a heavy hitter like Norah Painter you can’t swing you just have to absorb the ball, We also moved our defense up because she (Painter) can get on top of the ball so well that if you move up a little from the line you have a better chance of getting there.”
Painter, who had five kills in the first set, was limited to four kills in the middle two sets, before collecting five more for a total of 14 for the night.
Even though the Titans’ defensive adjustments were key, the Titans continued their hard-hitting approach that was interspersed by dinks and tips to keep Shawnee off balance as well as forcing a number of miss hits and unforced errors.
Ellerbrock said an added momentum boost came when setter Kendra Kahle went down with an ankle injury in the third game and the rest of the team had to pick up her slack.
For Ottawa-Glandorf, Taylor Alt recorded 8 kills on the night and Carly Alt added 7 kills.
“They stepped it up a notch knowing that there setter was potentially not coming into the game so they to more control of the ball, making smart plays and not make the tough, hard play and swing through the block.”
By collecting the win over Shawnee, the Titans complete a gruelling week of games that saw them hold off Celina last Thursday and drop a marathon match to Ottoville Monday. It is not quite over yet as Ottawa-Glandorf enters the Crestview Invitational this weekend that features a host of quality teams.
“They are working really hard and we are fighting through some injuries,” Ellerbrock said. “They are playing some good volleyball right now and that is what you want to do and that is play the good teams so you are peaking when tournament time comes around.”