ELIDA — Tiffin Calvert did its homework and had a game plan for Saturday’s Division IV regional title volleyball match against Leipsic.
However, the Senecas’ main focus was to play aggressively against the Vikings.
Tiffin Calvert displayed that aggressive style of play as it defeated Leipsic in three sets at the Elida Fieldhouse – 25-21, 25-14 and 25-23 – to advance to the state tournament.
Tiffin Calvert (24-3) will play in a state semifinal at noon Thursday at Wright State University against Lancaster regional champ Portsmouth Clay, a 26-24, 27-25, 26-24 winner against Portsmouth Notre Dame.
Leipsic (25-3) started strong Saturday, jumping out to an early 5-0 lead in the first set. The Vikings looked to be on their way of notching a first-set victory, leading 17-12. However, that’s when Tiffin Calvert showcased its aggressive style of play.
The Senecas stormed back, took the lead and went on to notch the first set. That comeback by Tiffin Calvert set the tone for the rest of the match.
“That first set really deflated us, after we had a five-point lead,” Leipsic coach Brent Newell said. “We were ahead 17-12, and then all of a sudden they scored 10 points in a row. We were stuck. That kind of carried right over to set two. I thought in the third set – when we had a two-point lead late in the game – that we were going to hang around for another set; but it was not our day today.”
Tiffin Calvert was solid on the front line. Zoe Meyer led the Senecas with eight kills. Kate Rombach had seven kills. Ashlyn Jones and Lexie White each had six kills. Emma White recorded five kills for the Senecas.
“We did our work in preparing for these guys,” Tiffin Calvert coach Lori Rombach said. “We watched film. We watched them on Thursday night (regional semifinal match) and took notes on what we thought it was going to take to beat this team. Then, yesterday at practice, we talked about what we needed to do in order to beat this team. We made some adjustments on the court. But we decided that we just needed to play loose, play aggressive, play gritty and just beat them.”
Added Newell, “They’re so good, offensively, because they have four or five hitters they can send the ball to. They also play such good defense and it’s so hard to put the ball away, because they have great defenders. It was definitely a very good team we played today.”
Leading the way for Leipsic on Saturday was senior Hayley Heitmeyer, who hammered a game-high 16 kills. The 6-foot, 2-inch Heitmeyer also had four blocks. Carlee Siefker had 14 kills and 10 digs for the Vikings.
After being handled quite easily in the first two sets by Tiffin Calvert, Leipsic battled back in the third set and claimed a 15-14 lead. The Vikings stayed close, but the Senecas closed it out down the stretch.
“We spiked a lot of balls out of bounds,” Newell said. “They were aggressive errors. So, sometimes it’s hard to get upset when you make an aggressive error. It’s a game of ball control. If you don’t hit the ball inbounds, you can’t score a point and the other team does. When it’s rally scoring like that, you can’t spike the ball out of bounds 20 times and expect to win a regional final game.”
Along with Heitmeyer and Siefker, teammates Kacey Dulle (21 digs), Brooke Brown (14 digs), Lyndie Hazelton (16 assists) and Selena Loredo (12 assists) were all very active for Leipsic on Saturday.
“It was a lot of fun,” Newell said about this season. “I told the girls they had nothing to hang their heads for and everything to be proud of. We broke seven school records this year and we won 25 matches. It was a fun year.”
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