LEIPSIC – Excellent serving spearheaded Miller City’s three-set victory, 25-9, 25-7 and 25-17 over Putnam County rival Pandora-Gilboa in a Division IV Sectional final Thursday night.
With the win, Miller City improves to 14-8 on the season and will play another Putnam County foe Leipsic at Ottawa-Glandorf at 6 p.m. Monday. Pandora-Gilboa ends its year at 10-13.
In dominating the first two sets, Miller City recorded 13 aces and had 15 for the night.
Miller City head coach Kari Wenzenger said she saw the victory as a total team effort.
“We played like a team all year long,” Wenzinger said. “Tonight I think we had a girl with eight kills and one with seven kills so it was pretty balanced and some times that is hard to defend. I feel tonight everyone had their moment.”
Seven different Miller City players notched kills. Wildcat Abi Testers had eight kills and both Kylie Berner and Sofie von Wezel recorded seven. Katelyn Kuhlman added five.
As for the aces, Wenzenger said Cayla Troyer and Brittany Kuhlman usually average two aces a contest and against the Rockets, Kuhlman had four on the night and Troyer added five more to her total. Abi Lammers added three and Alexis Banks had two aces.
In addition to her aces, Brittany Kuhlman had 20 assists and 10 digs and Lammers provided seven kills and 17 digs. Troyer had 21 digs.
Pandora-Gilboa head coach Ron Simons said he has a young team and the Rockets were without one of their top players who was out due to personal reasons.
“I have basically freshmen and sophomores out there,” Simons said. “They were nervous at the start plus one of our key players was out for personal reasons so she wasn’t here and that makes a huge difference especially when she is your 6- footer on the front row. Not that should have stopped us but they came out more prepared and ready to play than we did.”
In the first set, Miller set the tone early by jumping out to 13-1 lead to take immediate control of the game.
The same held true for the second set when Miller City was down 3-0 to start the game but the Wildcats reeled off 13 straight points to once again garner control.
Shaking off perhaps those early game jitters, Pandora-Gilboa put up a bigger fight and held a 10-6 lead in the third set, however, the Wildcats would go on a 10-6 run to knot the score and then pushed past the Rockets in the final portion of the game by going on a 9-2 run to wrap up the match.
Simons said that as the leads began to grow bigger and bigger his team felt additional pressure to perform.
“As the score got bigger and greater they look at you and they can tell the coach is kind of perturbed and because they are not playing like they have been all year and in practice you can bet they are saying ‘oh my God if I miss this one or that one’ and I kept trying to tell them it is just another game and they didn’t figure that out until the third game.”
Leipsic 3, Temple Christian 0
Leipsic, the No. 1 seed in the bracket, had little trouble with Temple Christian and rolled to a 25-10, 25-6, 25-12 win.
The Vikings improve to 22-2 and advance to the district semifinals against Miller City at Ottawa-Glandorf at 6 p.m. Monday. Temple Christian ends its season at 2-21.
Viking Hayley Heitmeyer led the team with 13 kills and Carlee Siefker recorded six kills. Selena Loredo provided 13 assists and two aces. Lyndie Hazelton recorded 12 assists, three aces and was 25 for 25 setting.
“We are taking it one game at a time no matter who our opponent is,” Viking head coach Brent Newell. “We will take it one match at time and hopefully enjoy the ride.”