Volleyball: Crestview outlasts Tiffin Calvert

ELIDA —A strong start combined with a strong finish helped Crestview down Tiffin Calvert in five sets in the Division III regional semifinals Thursday. The Knights won 25-19, 14-25, 25-18, 19-25 and 15-12.

Crestview will face Hicksville at the Elida Fieldhouse at 2 p.m. Saturday.

As the first set score indicates, it was the Knights who grabbed the early momentum but as the night went on both teams saw a number of runs, momentum shifts and a roller coaster of emotions from fans, players and coaches.

Crestview head coach Tammy Gregory said it was a long week because the team normally plays Tuesdays and Thursdays so she had the team work on different scenarios in practice to bolster the team’s confidence and prepare them for anything and the Knights saw a little bit of everything against a tenacious Tiffin Calvert squad.

“They were confident,” Gregory said. “They relied on each other. That is what is so nice about this team is they trust each other and know what they need to pull through and they know their goals and that is big for us.”

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Tiffin Calvert, with a couple of state titles and regional appearances the last several years came in with a powerhouse reputation, but it was Crestview who came out with something to prove and behind the team’s sensational hitting coupled with a solid wall at the net defensively, helped the Knights win the first set.

“It was real big,” Gregory said. “We talked about that jump start against a team like that. They are well coached. They have a lot of regional experience and getting that jump start was huge and getting that first game under our belts was huge.”

Despite dropping that first set Tiffin Calvert stormed back in the second set and that set the pattern for the remaining sets as both teams battled back and forth until the fifth stanza that saw Crestview, behind the hitting of Myia Etzler, the setting of Cali Gregory and the team’s defense at the net , had the Knights break out to an 11-6 lead before prevailing, 15-12.

Cali Gregory recorded the 2,000 assists of her career in the marathon match.

“When your at this level it is going to be a battle,” Calvert head coach Lori Rombach said. “They just executed a little better than we did tonight and they put up a big block. We had a really hard time getting around their block tonight. I think ultimately that is what we struggled with the most.”

Rombach added that she felt her team was going to get momentum after winning the second set..

“In that second set we felt loose and we felt aggressive and we felt in control and that’s pretty much the only set we felt in control of the whole night,” the Senecas head coach said. “We had a hard time finding the floor and this is one of those games where we had a hard time finding the floor and give a lot of credit to their block.”

It was Crestview’s ability to play strong at the net that tipped the scales in favor of the night and Gregory admitted that blocking has been a weakness in the past.

“We are getting better at blocking and that has been one of our weaknesses but the girls are just working their tail ends off and that is what is so important,” Gregory said. “Even if we get just slow the ball down our defense can respond to that. We are good at looking in our rear view mirror. They did have lots of them but they focused on that next one and that was big in that last game.”

Gregory also praised the team’s ability to rebound after dropping that second set by 11 points and coming up with a win and doing the same after falling in the fourth set. Crestview, a team with one senior on the roster, should poise in clutch situation

“The goals are set so high,” Gregory said. “We know every game is so crucial and what we want to accomplish and just being here. This is the first time for a lot of these girls and they’ve never been in this type of environment. With have nothing to lose and we are going to keep fighting and fighting and do what we do best.”

Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.