The Pettisville volleyball team won its first sectional title since 2002 when the Birds defeated second-seeded Northwood 25- 12, 25-22, 25-16 in a Division IV sectional final at Pettisville High School, Saturday, Oct. 20.
PHS played Stryker in a district semifinal contest last night, Tuesday. The winner advances to the district final, Saturday, Oct. 27, 5 p.m. at Napoleon High School versus the winner of last night’s district semifinal winner at Edgerton- either Antwerp or Edon.
Top-seeded Stryker won its sectional final in three games over Fayette, 25-9, 25-7, 25-17.
The Birds (14-10) got to the sectional final with a 25-14, 25- 21, 25-16 semifinal victory over Toledo Christian, Tuesday, Oct. 16.
PHS Def. Toledo Christian 25-14, 25-21, 25-16
Pettisville jumped out to a 14-3 lead in the first game. TC closed to within six points, 20-14 when they served the ball long. Chelsea Schmucker served out the game for PHS, including an ace at game point.
The second game stayed close throughout, although the Eagles never led. With Pettisville ahead 24-21, a Haley Nofziger kill ended the game.
The Birds jumped ahead 10- 3 in the third game before TC clawed its way back to a onepoint deficit at 11-10.
With the Birds ahead 20-16, Jodi Spotts served out the game. An Eagle was called for a net violation and Spotts served two straight aces to go ahead 23-16. A kill by Katie Weber right into the forehead of Christine Crews put PHS at match point, and TC’s last spike was long, giving Pettisville the match.
“At least three of those girls were from their state team (the Eagles were defeated in a 2006 Div. IV state semifinal), so tournament was nothing new, and we knew they were confident,” said John Horning, PHS coach.
The Blackbirds “started out well and were very consistent. They played very solid.” PHS Def. Northwood 25-12, 25-22, 25-16
The Birds built a 20-12 lead when Spotts again served out the match for a 25-12 firstgame victory.
The second game stayed tight, as the Rangers closed within one, 17-16. Jessica Henrie’s kill right into a Northwood hole got the serve back for PHS.
“We’ve really worked on being smarter players, but now we’re to the point of ‘you need to expose a weakness and you go after it,'” said Horning. “We say we want our defense to affect their offense and our offense to affect their defense. We want to make them change.
“We want to hit a spot so they cover it, and then go somewhere else.”
With PHS ahead 24-22, Schmucker’s serve was not returned, giving PHS a 2-0 lead.
In the huddle before the third game, “I said it was 2-0, there’s no better place to be, but you’ve gotta get number three,” said Horning.
“That third game was probably the best I’d seen them all year.”
The Birds jumped out to a 9- 0 lead before Northwood knew what hit it. PHS extended the advantage to 17-3, and Northwood’s frustration was obvious before Horning began substituting some players to give them experience.
A Schmucker kill put PHS at game point, 24-16, and Nofziger’s block at the net gave the Birds the sectional championship.
“Our blocking was great,” said Horning. “Haley (Nofziger) was really on.”
Nofziger had nine solo blocks. Schmucker and Weber each had five; Spotts and Henrie each had four; and Karina Rohrer- Meck had two.
“We told them there’s four things to get the crowd involved: an ace, a kill, scrappy play, and that solo block, and Haley really took that challenge to heart.
“I’m really pleased with the net game tonight.”
Horning predicted last night’s district semifinal with Stryker would be “a heavyweight battle. We match up with them well,” he said.
“Stryker’s advantage is their senior leadership.”
The Panthers have six seniors: Kasey Hageman, Haley Meyers, Megan Boetz, Mandy Boetz, Mishell Hancock, and Molly Boetz.
“I know for us, it’s always a big game with Stryker. As a coach, that’s good from a motivational standpoint. There’s a concern of getting too wrapped up with it.
“Skill-wise we’re going to have to be ready for everything. We’re going to have to take advantage of anything soft that they bring, because if we send anything soft they’re going to send it back hard.”
Both members of the Buckeye Border Conference, Pettisville won their first contest this season, 25-23, 21-25, 25-22, 25-23. Stryker won the rematch, 20- 25, 19-25, 25-22, 25-21, 11-15.- Mary Huber