ARCHBOLD -- It was a night of celebration at the "Thunder Dome" as Archbold wrapped up a NWOAL regular season volleyball title on Senior Night with a victory over Patrick Henry, 25-16, 25-8, 25-21.
Led by a trio of seniors that have helped lead the Blue Streaks (16-6, 8-0 NWOAL) all season long, it was only fitting that the league title would be won on Senior Night.
"I think for all of us, it is really big," said senior Abby Short. "Only having three seniors, and us being really close, I know we almost teared up going out on the court just thinking about it. It's really special for us to be able to win our last game played here."
Fellow senior Tori Williams agreed.
"It's very exciting," said Williams. "We knew we had to leave our last NWOAL game with a big exclamation point, and we just came out and got the job done."
It was Archbold coming through pressure situations and playing with composure throughout the night. Holding on to a 20-10 first-set lead, the Blue Streaks were quickly on their heels after a series of defensive miscues and strong serving by Patrick Henry junior Rylee Bower cut the lead to 20-14. Following a timeout, the Streaks regained their composure and won the first set, getting timely kills from Jenny Lehman and Desi Newman, as well as blocks by Lehman and Darian Oberlin, who finished the game with four kills and three aces.
"We just told our girls to just come out and play," explained Archbold coach Dale Grime. "They started getting jittery. They started getting hesitant a little bit and they needed to come out and just attack the ball."
Patrick Henry coach Alison Meyer wasn't ready to pinpoint one thing that stopped her team's first set momentum.
"I don't know that anything went wrong," remarked Meyer, whose team fell to 7-13 overall and 4-4 in NWOAL play. "They are a very good team. Maybe, you know, their hitters started swinging away. I think we had a little lack of communication toward the end of the set, and Archbold went on a pretty good run to end the set."
After pulling away to capture the first set, it was Archbold finding its rhythm and starting the second set in dominant fashion.
The Streaks raced out to score the first three points of the second set, capped by a kill from Lehman. Archbold stretched the lead to 15-5, before going on a 7-0 run featuring three Becca Gerig kills set up by Taylor Coressel. Williams added an assisted block in the middle of the scoring run along with Gerig, who had eight digs and 11 kills. Not long after, Short slammed one in the corner to make it 23-6. Senior Sami Wyse, who finished a perfect 13-13 serving, polished off the set with her lone ace.
"Lately, we've had times of not being consistent," Grime said. "We'll hit the ball out of bounds or something, but our last game we were a lot more consistent. The second game, our hits were going in and our passes were pretty good."
With points being traded back and forth in the third set, it was a group of non-seniors who helped chip in and make key plays down the stretch for the Streaks.
With the score tied at 21 in the third set after the Patriots' Kelsey Tietje scored following a Heather Gibson assist, Archbold answered back as Coressel set the ball up for a Newman kill and a one-point advantage. The next point, Coressel assisted on a Oberlin kill, and the Blue Streaks shut the door on the Patriots with another Oberlin spike, set up this time by Newman. Coressel and Newman each notched 17 assists for the game.
"I think we played really well today," noted Short. "We had a few glitches just like in every other game, but I felt like the girls stepped up and everyone played really hard."
Said Grime: "You have to give a lot of credit to PH. That third game, they came out attacking us. Our blocking was not quite as good as it was earlier in the match. They came out just getting at us. In the end, they just made a couple mistakes that we got a few points off of and that helped us get our momentum back to finish it off. Patrick Henry is a good team. They have some good players and they're young."
For Patrick Henry, a team without a senior, it was evidence of how important senior leadership can be in tense game situations.
"We do have a team of juniors," said Meyer. "It's not that we're not getting the experience, but that lack of true senior leadership does affect us sometimes. It would be helpful if we had that senior."
Gibson finished with 17 assists for the Patriots, while Tietje had eight kills to go along with four solo blocks.
"It's awesome to come out and win and do everything we've worked for," concluded Wyse. "I guess the win right now is really motivating us to go out and do well in the tournament, and play our roles and see how far we can go."
Archbold def. Patrick Henry, 25-16, 25-8, 25-14, 25-21
Archbold (16-6, 8-0 NWOAL) - Sami Wyse 13-13 serving, 3 digs; Becca Gerig 8 digs, 21-21 hitting, 11 kills; Taylor Coressel 4 digs, 32-32 setting, 17 assists; Desi Newman 14-14 serving, 10 digs, 37-37 setting, 17 assists; Tori Williams 4 kills; Jenny Lehman 5 digs, 6 kills; Abby Short 4 digs, 7 kills; Rachel Brader 3 kills; Darian Oberlin 17-17 serving, 3 aces, 4 kills.
Patrick Henry (7-13, 4-4 NWOAL) - Heather Gibson 17 assists; Kelsey Tietje 8 kills, 4 blocks; Kayla Fintel 9 digs; Mallory Michaelis 6 kills; Rylee Bower 4 kills.
Reserves: Archbold, 25-5, 25-19.