MILLER CITY — Don’t panic.
Miller City kept its composure against a talented Ottoville team to record a three-set victory in a Putnam County League affair. The Wildcats won 26-24, 25-22 and 25-22.
Miller City stays unbeaten in the PCL and improves to 3-0 and 10-3 overall and Ottoville suffers its first league loss, falling to 2-1 and 10-4 for the season.
As the scores indicate it was a close contest that could have gone either way but it was the Wildcats’ ability to weather Ottoville’s strong offensive attack led by Tara Heitmeyer and their ability to not panic during crunch time that proved to be the difference.
It was seen in the first set when Miller City, who found themselves down early 6-2, rallied to win 26-24 and gain the early momentum and it showed in set three when the Wildcats fell behind 17-11 but Miller City rallied to score eight straight points to grab the lead 19-17 and rode that momentum to the three-point victory, avoiding a potential fourth set and Ottoville comeback.
“That seems to be a trend this year,” Miller City head coach Kari Wenzinger about his team battling back. “We are kind of used to them doing that. I am proud of them for not panicking. We had a lot of double-hit calls and I am proud of them overcoming that and moving forward. Once we did make errors they did not allow them to compound and get the win.”
Despite the loss, Ottoville head coach Melany Kohls said she was not mad the way her team played against Miller City.
“I think we played one of the best games of our season,” Kohls said. “Miller City is a good team and they deserve that win. I think we have to push forward and work on the little things that kind brought us down tonight.”
Both coaches agreed that the first set was pivotal.
Wenzinger said that going into the night the game plan was to try and work around Heitmeyer.
“We have seen her for four years and last year I even put a triple block on her so pretty much our game plan was to really go when she was in the back row because I knew she was going to pound,” Wenzinger said. “I was really proud of my girls on the serve and getting points in the back row.”
Even when Heitmeyer was in, the Wildcats’ defense at the net had several big blocks in key situations led by Abi Teders, Lexi Banks and Samantha Demuth.
Also coming up big defensively was Abi Lammers and Tessa Oedy who both recorded 20 digs and Grace Pfau who notched 15 digs. Josie Otto and Lex Banks each had 12 digs and Tor Wensinger had 9 digs.
Offensively, the Wildcats showed off their versatility with a number of players recording kills. Lammers led the team with 13 kills, followed by Teders with 9 kills and Banks added 8 kills. Demuth recorded five kills.
Pfau notched 37 assists. Otto and Teders each had three aces.
“I thought our girls did an excellent job of playing smart and hitting the open spots,” Wenzinger said. “We have really talking to the back row about helping the hitters out and what’s open and they all came up huge. That is what I like about this team is they just play as a team. You never know who is going to have the big hit or the big dig. They all seem to come together at big moments.”
Ottoville’s Heitmeyer, who had numerous blocks, finished with 14 kills and Elise Kramer led the team with 16 kills on the night.