KALIDA — The top-ranked Ottawa-Glandorf volleyball team Tuesday night lived up to its number-one ranking in Division III.
The Titans took on Pemberville Eastwood in a district semifinal at Kalida High School.
The Titans secured a 26-24, 25-22, 25-14 sweep.
The Titans (24-1) advanced to take on the second-match winner between Coldwater and Liberty-Benton at 6 p.m. Thursday back at Kalida.
“It took us some time to get through the jitters in both the first two sets. We also knew that Eastwood would be a scrappy opponent, especially with their defense,” Ottawa-Glandorf head coach Ann Ellerbrock said. “We had to adjust what we were doing with our hitting. We were trying to hit through everything and we had to figure out that we could get some kills by tapping the ball. We started to listen to our teammates from the back row telling our hitters what was open and we started to find that out as the match went on. During timeouts, I told them to just relax, don’t try to kill everything.”
Eagles’ head coach Jeff Beck felt his team stayed with the number-one team in the state for the first two sets.
“I couldn’t be prouder of how we did against this team. They are number one for a reason,” Beck said. “I felt we hit with them, played defense with them, passed like they did and just was right there for the first two sets. We were doing a great job of tipping the ball against their defense but for some reason, we went away from that as the match wore on. Still, I couldn’t be happier with how we played against them.”
With the likes of Western Buckeye League Player of the Year Taylor Alt (13 kills) and Erica Annesser (14 kills, 14 digs) leading the way from the start for the Titans, with Eastwood being paced by Kyra Contris (8 kills, 5 aces) and Alyssa Ray (5 kills, 2 block/stuffs), the battle was joined the first set. O-G had the biggest lead of 4-0 and then after Eastwood came back to take a 6-4 lead, the set tightened up the rest of the way. It came down to the closing burst which went the way of the Titans. After a Contris ace tied it at 24, a tip by Alt and a hit off the block by Alt gave the first set to the Titans.
The second set was very much like the opener. With the biggest lead by either team being four – at 12-8 by O-G – the Titan defense began to come into play more and more behind the likes of libero Claire Eiden (18 digs). In the end, Ottawa-Glandorf was just a little more consistent overall. At 22-22 on a serving error by Eastwood, Alt put one down off the block and then a pair of hitting errors – the first set up by a block from Alt - put the Titans in firm control up two sets to one.
“We know what we have as far as our hitters go. How far we go in the tournament is dependent on our defense,” Ellerbrock said. “We started to do a better job of knowing where they were going on their hitters. Our system gives up the lines but our libero, Claire is so quick, she does a good job of covering those lines.”
On the other hand, Beck felt that his squad couldn’t recover from the disappointment of losing the first two sets.
“You could tell the wind had gone out of our sails after that. Again, they aren’t where they are for no reason,” Beck said. “They started to read us well where we were going to hit and we stopped doing what had worked the first two sets. I don’t think anyone would’ve thought it would be this close the first two sets coming into the match.”
O-G started out quickly in the third set, building a 5-0 lead, culminated by an ace from Alt. Eastwood came back with within 6-5 on an ace by Bailey Ramlow but O-G began to assert its control. With setter Brianna Schimmoeller (18 assists) guiding the way, O-G began to build its lead and used a 7-0 spurt later in the set – behind the serving of Schimmoeller and a pair of stuffs by Maddie White, to put themselves in position for the win. A serving error by Eastwood gave the final serve to OG and a hit off the defense by Kasey Ellerbrock finished off the sweep.
Liberty-Benton 3, Coldwater 1
Liberty-Benton won 25-19, 25-21, 19-25, 25-18. Annelise Harlamert had 41 assists, Lauren Gilliand had 13 kills, 15 digs and five aces and Katie Alig had 13 kills and 15 digs for Coldwater (18-7).
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