LIMA — St. Marys won the battle but Shawnee won the war.
In a rare occurrence, the Roughriders, who came into the season-ending Western Buckeye League tournament with a 5-4 mark, however, st. Marys notched four top three finishes to score 43, one point better than Shawnee, which scored four top three finishes, however failed to score any points in the second doubles bracket. St. Marys scored three points in No. 2 singles and that was enough to put the Roughriders over the top to win the tournament.
But with the scoring system, accounting for the regular season, the Indians came away with their second straight league overall title and 23rd overall with 19 points. The tournament win propelled St. Marys to second overall with 15.5 points and Wapakoneta rounded out the top three with 15 points.
“It really is a great tradition,” Shawnee head coach Joan Collar said. “We have like 22 of these and 17 outright and the rest have been shared and it speaks to how dedicated these girls are to the sport. These girls play year round because they love it. That is their jam. They love it, and They work hard at it.
“They all come to practice and work hard and I cannot say enough positive things about them. They have good family support and support from the school and that is what keeps them motivated. They don’t mess around when it comes to something like this.”
Shawnee rode its top singles players throughout the year and the Indians took first in two of the three singles divisions.
Shawnee senior Alora Patel repeated as No. 1 singles champ after defeating bath’s Elena Oliver, 6-3, 6-0 in the finals. This marks the second consecutive year Patel beat Oliver for the championship. This gives Patel her third straight first place. In 2020 she took top honors in No. 3 singles.
In No. 2 singles, it was again a match of Patels and Olivers only this time it was Bath’s Anne Oliver coming out on top after besting Ava, 6-1, 6-3 in the finals. It was a little revenge for Anne Oliver who lost to Ava Patel in the finals last season.
Shawnee’s Rose Kottapalli repeated at No. 3 singles champion after defeating St. Marys’ Cora Rable 4-6, 6-0, 6-1.
It was the doubles competition that helped propel the Roughriders to the tournament title as the they produced a first place in No. 1 doubles and a second place at No. 2 doubles.
The Rider duo of Jody Perry and Elizabeth Brown beat Wapakoneta’s Brooke Mining and Kierra Siefring, 6-3, 6-2 in the finals. Perry and Brown entered the tournament as the No. 1 seed after going unbeaten in the regular season.
The Rider pair of Molly Audrey Schlosser and Shannon came up short in a bid to make it a St. Marys sweep in the doubles competition, falling in a hard-fought three set affair 7-6 (9-7), 4-6 and 6-3 to the Ban Wert team of Piper Pierce and Sophia Gearhart. The cougar duo came into the match seeded second.
“They are all seniors. All seven of them,” Rider head coach Mariah Krugh said. “Four of them started out playing volleyball but came and joined the team their junior year so they have only had two years experience and are varsity starters and, like I said in the huddle, every one of them contributed points to win this tournament.
“It is hard to beat a Shawnee team when they have three strong singles players like that so it makes sense how they went 9-0 through the season and competed at the tournament and won overall but I don’t know if there are any words to describe how proud of my team I am and how they played today. They were ready to fight.”
Because they went 5-4 during the regular season, Krugh said the Roughriders coined the tournament as their “revenge” tour and some of the girls accomplished that feat by beating opponents they had lost to earlier in the season.
Krugh pointed to Charley Spencer taking third in No. 1 singles by beating Van Wert Grace Lott for the first time this year after losing to her on several occasions during the regular season. Rable, the runner-up in No. 3 singles, got to the finals by beating Ottawa-Glandorf’s Maggie Schmiedebusch, the No. 2 seed who had downed Rable during the regular season dual match.
Celina’s Lauren Mullenkamp garnered the WBL sportsmanship award.