Archbold returns to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2009 after defeating Otsego 25-20, 25-23, 25-19, in the Division III district final at Napoleon, Saturday, Oct. 27.
It is the 25th district championship for Archbold since 1975.
“It was a great, great road,” said Kylie Rufenacht, AHS head coach.
“Since day one I told the girls what we want to be, and we want to be the best in the state. We had this goal in mind, and we’re not done yet.
“The last two years, not making it out of sectionals, it’s been tough. We wanted to make sure we had a focus since day one of practice and all the way through.
“The girls have really stepped up, and they’ve been working hard and going after what they want.”
After the first-set victory, Archbold held an 11-5 lead in the second before the Knights scored nine straight points to go ahead 14-11.
The Streaks came back with a run of their own, scoring seven straight points behind the serving of Cayla Walker for an 18-14 advantage.
Otsego came back after the Blue and Gold built a 22-20 lead, and had tied the score at 23 when Rufenacht called a time-out.
Jenny Lehman’s spike was blocked out of bounds, putting the Streaks at game point, 24-23. Archbold won the game 25-23 when the spike of Otsego’s Abby Hesselschwardt sailed long on the next play.
“I was expecting a lot of defense and a lot of big blocks and a lot of swings” from Otsego, said Rufenacht. “We knew who their hitters were. We were able to make that adjustment and see where their hitters were and pick at their defense.
“They changed their defense up on us and we found those holes where they needed to go.”
Between Otsego spiking errors and kills by Lehman and Desi Newman, AHS sprinted out to a 12-5 lead in the third game. The Knights fought back to within three, 20-17, but the gap was too much to overcome.
Otsego (17-7) came within three again, 22-19, but a Lehman kill followed by a partial block of a Becca Gerig spike put the Streaks at match point, 24-19.
Sidney Rowe’s spike went into the net for the Knights, giving AHS the set and match, 25-19.
Gerig finished with 22 of the team’s 47 kills, while Lehman had 16. Taylor Coressel had 23 assists; Newman had 19. The Streaks had 83 digs, including 24 by Erin Erbskorn, 15 by Darian Oberlin, and 14 by Lehman.
Columbus Bishop Ready (17-8) plays Huron (22-3), tomorrow, Thursday, 6 p.m., at Findlay High School in the night’s first regional semifi- nal.
Archbold (23-2) plays Coldwater (18-7) in the nightcap, at approximately 7:30 p.m.
“They’re gonna be big and they’re gonna have a big front row,” said Rufenacht of the Cavaliers.
“They’re gonna get hands on balls. We’re just going to have to be ready for the big offensive line that they’re going to have.”
Huron was ranked eighth in Division III in the final Ohio High School Volleyball Coaches Association poll. Archbold was ninth, and Bishop Ready was 16th.
The regional championship game is Saturday, Nov. 3, 2 p.m., at Findlay High School.