FINDLAY - Judging from the smiles and the amount of pictures being taken with the trophy, there's nothing about winning a district championship that gets old.
For the second straight year, Mohawk got the best of Midland Athletic League rival New Riegel in a Division IV district final at Findlay High School. After dropping the first game, Mohawk took the next three and a 19-25, 25-19, 25-15, 25-21 victory.
After the match, the opinion was unanimous. The second time around was just as sweet.
"It feels a lot better to know that we can go back and do it again," Lynsey Trusty said before admitting to losing her voice.
"It means a lot. we've been working really hard for this," Ashley Parker added. "It feels amazing to win it twice. It's a great feeling."
Parker, typically Mohawk's setter, isn't used to getting many opportunities for kills of her own. Yet, at match point, the opportunity came her way and she took it. While New Riegel was expecting a set to one of the several strong Warrior hitters, Parker instead spotted an empty slot in New Riegel's defense, and knocked it down for the district championship winning point.
"It felt amazing to get that final kill," she said. "There's not very times that I actually get to kill the ball. So to be able to experience that was awesome. Especially the game point."
New Riegel finished the season with a 23-2 record, both losses coming to Mohawk, but not before giving the Warriors and coach Eric Hoover a number of problems.
"It is a great accomplishment. Nobody else was able to beat them this year," Hoover said. "They're a very, very good team. They got three very good offensive players that, there's times tonight we couldn't stop them at all. We couldn't get touches on the ball. They scrap a lot, they play great defense and we really had to battle."
Mohawk's 23rd victory of the season came in a manner not typical of the other 22. The Warriors had to come from behind.
New Riegel's Taylor Arbogast set the tone early in the first game with three quick kills to get the Blue Jackets rolling. New Riegel never trailed the entire first game, and never lost the lead after breaking a 4-4 tie.
The game stayed close with the Blue Jackets never being able to open up more than a three-point lead, until they pulled away late. Leading 20-18, New Riegel closed the game out with a 5-1 run.
New Riegel coach Cindy Walerius said she felt her team missed a chance to build off its momentum from the opener.
"We had a lot of momentum after that first game. Everything was going our way," she said. "Second game, I think we missed three or four serves. ... We get game two and that really puts the pressure on them."
Facing adversity, the three Mohawk seniors - Trusty, Ashley Parker and Sarah Parker - stepped up their leadership in efforts to help rally the team.
"All three seniors had a talk and we're like 'Guys, we don't want this season to be over, we can't end it like this.' We want to go to regionals," Trusty said, "and then we picked it up from there. Our confidence level went sky high."
"The huddle for the second game, I was telling the girls 'okay, we're all going to have nerves, they do to, but the second game is how we come back from that,'" Sarah Parker said. "We are not a team just to roll over and let them win. We wanted this more than anything tonight. We wanted to win this game and we went out and proved it that second game."
Hoover made some adjustments to the rotation in between games 1 and 2, in an effort to slow down New Riegel's offense.
"I did move our rotation a little bit, because that first game, we couldn't touch anything they hit," he said. "They killed every ball. We couldn't get any stops on defense. So I rotated us one spot ahead, just to see if we could get some different matchups on defense. I don't know if that had anything to do with it or not, but I told them, 'we have to start getting some touches at the net and slowing them down. We can't just let them pound it at us.' We did a better job of getting some touches at the net early and letting our back row do their thing after that."
Mohawk raced out to a 7-1 lead early in game 2. Lauren Ladd tried to keep New Riegel close with three kills and a pair of aces. The Blue Jackets chipped away at Mohawk's lead, but Julie Adelsperger came up with a pair of kills late to seal the win for the Warriors, knotting the match 1-1.
Sarah Parker came out strong for Mohawk in game 3, with four kills on the first six Mohawk points. However, Arbogast and Ladd were able to keep things even. The game was tied seven times, the final time coming at 11-11, before Mohawk scored off a Sarah Parker block. From there it was a 14-4 Mohawk run to close out the game.
Sarah Parker knocked down two more kills, while Kasey and Julie Adelsperger combined for six kills over the game's final eight points.
"We knew they were going to be aggressive on their serve, we worked on that last night," Walerius said. "The first game I thought we were really on target with our serve-receive. And then after that it came and went. We'd have it, then all of a sudden, we'd have a couple shanks, because every time we free-balled it over to them, just gave them the opportunity to set up their offense and that's what we didn't want to do."
Mohawk seemed like sharks smelling blood in the fourth game, grabbing a 12-2 lead. Sarah Parker had three kills and got two more points off blocks during the early run.
However, New Riegel answered. Kara Scherger had five kills and Arbogast four as New Riegel erased the deficit, getting within a point on a pair of occasions, the final time coming at 17-16. But the Mohawk front line full of Parkers and Adelspergers was too much down the stretch.
"We know they're going to battle, they're going to make runs," Hoover said of New Riegel. "They're too good not to make runs; too good offensively and defensively not to. I felt like there was a couple rotations where we had an advantage. But we still have to execute to take advantage of it. We did a good job of that in games two and three, and the beginning of four we did a great job executing in all those rotations and made runs at the times I really thought we could."
Sarah Parker finished with 18 kills while Kasey Adelsperger added 13 and Julie Adelsperger eight. Ashley Parker dished out 42 assists while Trusty led the defense with 18 digs.
Arbogast's 15 kills led New Riegel while Scherger chipped in 10 and Ladd eight. Cassandra Acree had 26 assists.
Mohawk will face McComb 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in a regional semifinal at Elida.