Volleyball: St. Marys outlasts Celina in five sets

BLUFFTON — Down 8-4 in the fifth set to Celina, St. Marys head coach Caley Yoder called timeout in hopes of regrouping the Roughriders and reminding the team to take it one point at a time.

The move paid off as St. Marys reeled off four straight points to knot the game at 8-8 and then survived a see-saw affair down the stretch to secure the 18-16 set and the five-set win, 19-25, 25-23, 21-25, 25-18 and 18-16 Tuesday night.

Two weeks ago Celina beat St. Marys in straight sets

“I called timeout at 8-4 and I told them we are not going to win this set in one point or in two points,” Yoder said. “We really need to play this point by point, do your job and trust each other and play with confidence.

“This is the first opportunity for me as a coach (to go district). The girls have worked really hard and we are going to see what we can do.”

St. Marys will face Liberty-Benton at Bluffton University at 6 p.m. Thursday after the Eagles beat Shawnee 25-23, 25-18 and 25-19.

Celina head coach Phil Benge was disappointed with the loss but said it does not detract from the team’s outstanding year that saw them win the Western Buckeye League title.

“I have never been part of a fifth set like that,” Benge said. “It was just a great job by our eight seniors and the last couple of seasons. They are a great group of girls and I am proud of them. They had a lot of grit and determination and they just came up short but I am proud of them and I thank them for their contribution to the program.

“Certainly a hard loss and tough way to end the season but they can look at their accomplishments and can be proud of what they did.

With the win, the Roughriders advance to the district finals against the winner of Shawnee/Liberty Benton Thursday. This marks the first time since 2015 that St. Marys has made it the district finals. Celina ends its year with a 20-5 mark.

Yoder points to her team keeping their emotions in check to one of the keys to the win and that was not easy in a contest that featured more lead changes than at the Daytona 500.

“Going into practice and heading towards this game, we know that tournament can be an emotional time and that we were going to have to control our emotions,” Yoder said. “Celina has a lot of weapons but I feel like we were prepared for them and we played some great volleyball.”

Rider Brynn Clark led the team with 15 kills and Halle Huston added 11 kills. Syerra Greber notched 10 kills and Darcie Liming added nine., Lily Rammel finished with 39 assists.

Yoder added that she preached serve and serve receive and that proved to be vital throughout the night. The Roughriders’ solid defensive play, especially at the net, continually thwarted and helped contained Celina’s hitters, who at times utilized the the dink to circumvent the Rider wall that proved to be nearly impenetrable at times.

“If we are passing and serve receiving well we are able to run an offense and it makes it very tough for teams” Yoder said. “We definitely worked on blocking from here on out. If we are getting touches and slowing down offenses we can compete and do a lot of great things.”

Clark had nine blocks with Rammel and Liming each adding three of their own.

Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.