DEFIANCE — After splitting the first two sets, Ottawa-Glandorf and Fairview were locked in a tight battle with both teams looking for an advantage in the Division III district finals Thursday night.
And it was the Titans who made some key adjustments to offset the Apaches’ formidable defense and solid net play to win the next two sets and secure the 3-1 victory. Ottawa-Glandorf won 25-23, 17-25, 25-12 and 25-15.
This marks Ottawa-Glandorf’s first Division III district title after the Titans moved down a division this year. The Titans advance to the regional semifinal at Milbury Lake High School against the winner of the Galion/Huron winner at 6 p.m. Thursday.
“To start off the game our serve pass game was struggling a little bit and they are a pretty aggressive team and they were definitively putting some pressure on our back line so we refocused and regrouped and came out and got our passes in system and helped our offense get going after that,” Titan head coach Amber Gerdeman said.
Gerdeman added that Fairview played amazing defense, especially at the net and turned away a number of Titan spikes. When they were able to get past Fairview’s formidable wall up front, the Apache back line was there to make the key digs.
“We switched our starting rotation so we would have some different front row lineups and I think that really helped our hitters get around some blocks and I think that definitely helped change the tone,” Gerdeman said.
Fairview head coach Allison Cloleck said Ottawa-Glandorf’s serving in the final two sets took the Apaches out of their game.
“I think our service-receive hurt us (in the final two sets) and that kind of got them on a run because for whatever reason we track the ball and we were out of system and weren’t attacking the net aggressively which gave them opportunities to get into the flow of their offense and if you give a team like O-G that opportunity they are going to take advantage of it.”
Titan senior Taylor Alt led the club with 18 kills, two aces and 11 digs and the Titans had major contributions from Erica Annesser, Erin Kaufman, Miya Ellerbrock and Maddie White. Annesser finished with nine kills, two aces and 15 digs. Kaufman had five kills and three blocks. Setter Brianna Schimmoeller recorded 31 assists, 13 digs and two aces. Ellerbrock finished with four kills and 12 digs.
Defensively, senior standout Claire Eiden finished with an impressive 41 digs.
Gerdeman pointed out that mixing up the dinks and tips with the spikes in the final two sets helped keep the Apaches off-balance defensively.
“They (Fairview) is a very low error team and very smart offensively and we knew in order to win tonight we would have to match that and make sure we didn’t beat ourselves,” Gerdeman said. “That is what was happening in the first two sets. We had a ton of hitting errors we normally don’t have and we really had to regroup and pick up that aspect of the game to come out on top.”
Fairview could have easily gone up two games but a key call and the resiliency of the Titans paid off in crunch time. Tied at 21-21, it appeared the Apaches had recorded a kill, however, they were whistled for a net violation and it was the Titans who gained the point. From there, the Titans went up 24-21 before Alt secured the win with a massive kill to end it, 25-23.
The Apaches took control early in the second set. With the scored tied 6-6, Fairview went on a 9-1 run to open up an eight point lead. O-G never made up that round and lost 25-17.
“We have a great group and they have really earned the title tonight,” Gerdeman said.