Volleyball: Celina wins a thriller

WAPAKONETA — Each time Wapakoneta made a run, Celina found a way to counter.

Thursday’s key Western Buckeye League volleyball match at Wapakoneta between the two undefeated teams in the league, proved to be all that it was built up to be.

Even though Celina swept Wapakoneta in three sets on Thursday – 31-29, 25-21, 27-25 – those sets did not come easy for Celina.

In the first set, the score was knotted 19 times before Celina managed to slip out with the hard-fought win.

“I’m very thankful to come away with a good win,” Celina head coach Phil Bange said. “Obviously, a lot was riding on this one. Our girls were well aware of the stakes.”

With the victory, Celina improves to 17-4 overall and 8-0 in the WBL. Wapakoneta slips to 13-4 and 7-1 in league play.

With the win, Celina guarantees itself at least a share of the WBL title.

Heading into Thursday night, Ottawa-Glandorf and St. Marys both had two league losses.

Leading the way for Celina Tuesday was Ava Knapke with 13 kills on the night. Teammates Mylee Sapp and Brooklyn Bourne each had nine kills for the Bulldogs.

For Wapakoneta, University of Alabama-commit, senior Kaleigh Palmer, led the way with 21 kills. Teammate Carlie Schroeder had 16 digs on the night.

In the second set, Wapakoneta led 10-6.

However, Celina battled back and eventually came away with the four-point win. The second set was knotted up four times.

In the third and decisive set, Wapakoneta led by as many as six points. However, Celina came roaring back and pulled out another hard-fought win, to close out the match.

“We’ve got a great group of seniors, and their hungry,” Bange said. “We’ve had some disappointing ends to some of their seasons the last couple go-arounds here. (It’s) just awesome to see them grit their way through it.

“It wasn’t the prettiest game that we’ve played. Hats off to their (Wapakoneta) coaches and team – and to Kaleigh Palmer. … She (Palmer) is such a fantastic player – one of the best we’ve played against, all year. But it was a total team effort on our side. Our back row has been so good this year. We dug ourselves some holes (Thursday), but we were fortunate to make the big plays when we needed to. I’m super-pumped to get out with the win. … (I’m) proud of our girls.”