BASCOM - Less than a week ago, New Riegel and Calvert closed out the Midland Athletic League with an epic match. If the two meet again, it will be in the Division IV district final at Fostoria.
Each took the next step towards a possible rematch, claiming sectional final victories at Hopewell-Loudon, dispatching their respective opponents in three games.
Calvert dropped St. Wendelin in the first game of a doubleheader 25-13, 25-17, 25-23. New Riegel followed with a 25-8, 25-5, 25-14 victory over Old Fort.
But that's pretty much where the similarities end.
New Riegel showed the dominance expected from the state's No. 3 ranked team, while Calvert admittedly went through periods of sloppy play.
"That's what I told the girls; yeah you won sectionals, but that wasn't the kid of effort that I wanted to see out of them out there," said Calvert coach Greg Hendrix. "But, we get to move on. ... we're going to have to be ready to bring our energy back up because that wasn't the top Calvert effort that you seen on the floor tonight. That being said, that's a decent St. Wendelin team that's made a lot of strides this year. I think they're going to surprise some teams in the (Sandusky River League) next year, because there is some talent on that side of the court."
"It feels really good," Ashley Perry said of the team's third-straight sectional title. "Our team really fought for it. We had our down spots, but we really fought for it."
Calvert's opening game against St. Wendelin was tied at 11 before the Senecas went on a 14-2 run to end it. Haley Felter took over, putting down five kills in the final stretch and produced another point off a block. Ashley Perry chipped in a pair of aces to help Calvert close out the opener.
"Haley Felter did an excellent job cutting that ball in the angles tonight and finding the way through their blocks," Hendrix said. "St. Wendelin, one of their strengths is they got two nice middles out there. Haley was able to find her way through that block all night and did an excellent job for us."
Felter and Amber Perry shared Calvert's team-high with 11 kills.
"I saw their alleys were open so we kind of had a game plan to go sharp and get around their blocks 'cause we know they have a good block," Felter said. "It was important to find the holes and go after that."
Calvert jumped out to a 9-1 lead in Game 2 and cruised to a win. It looked like Game 3 would be more of the same as the Senecas raced out 5-0. St. Wendelin, though, fought back to take a 15-10 lead. The Mohawks got within three points of forcing a fourth game, up 22-18.
"We were basically just saying we need to fight for it," Ashley Perry said of the message being spread in Calvert's huddle. "We can't go into four games, we can definitely win if we fight for it."
Meridith Lucius had eight of her nine kills in the third game, keeping Calvert in it. The final stretch was a team effort as four different players tallied kills as Calvert won seven of the final eight points to win the game and match.
"There at the end of the third game, we fell behind and we needed somebody to step up and Meridith Lucius came up and got two or three nice kills to step up," Hendrix said. "She struggled a little bit early then picked her game up when we needed it out of her."
"We started off slow today but we did come alive," said St. Wendelin coach Stacey Taylor. "And we worked hard. We had the lead for a little bit. It was just a couple errors and the game fell on their side. That's how it worked today, wasn't our day."
Allie Rutter had seven kills to lead the Mohawks, but Taylor said her hitters struggled to put down kills against the Calvert defense.
"We were hitting the ball but we weren't getting the actual kill," Taylor said. "We didn't get as many kills as I was hoping we'd get today. But Calvert's a defensive team and they were digging things up."
In the day's second match, New Riegel aced its test against Old Fort. The Blue Jackets served 20 aces in their three-game victory over the Stockaders. New Riegel backed up its lofty ranking with a dominant performance on the court.
"That's what I was afraid of too, coming into this game cause having just played them 10 days ago. I wanted to make sure we were definitely focused on this game and not worried about anything else and I think they did. I thought the girls really did a good job today of coming ready to play," said New Riegel coach Cindy Walerius. "Not to take anything away from Old Fort but there are a lot of freshmen out there. And like (Old Fort coach Nancy Hoover) said, the pressure got to them a little bit. And we could see that the second game. I've been there with a lot of freshmen before; I know what that's like. But my kids are mostly juniors and seniors. I think we've gone through this and we've talked about it. We knew to keep going at it. I actually hated doing that because I have such respect for Nancy and her team but we know it's tournament time and that's what we had to do."
Old Fort was hanging tough, down only 9-5 early in the first game.
Then Kara Scherger took the serve. Scherger served seven of her eight aces in her extended time at the line, as the score quickly escalated to a 21-5 New Riegel advantage.
"That serve is something else," Walerius said. "She works on it all the time, though. If she doesn't get an ace in a game, the very next day at practice there she is working over and over about 'Why couldn't I get the ball to drop? How was I mis-hitting it?' She works on it on her own; I don't really even mess with her. She knows what she needs to do and she goes back and works at it."
"Once I get going, it starts getting stronger," Scherger said. "I try and move around the back line to see if I could get different angles for them. That really messes with them I think."
Seemingly every ball Old Fort was able to return was slammed back down by Taylor Arbogast. She led the Blue Jackets with 12 kills on the day. She also had a good day serving as well with six aces. Morgan Noftz added four aces and Brittany Gillig two.
"We were really on on our serving today," Arbogast said. "We worked a lot on it the last couple days in practice on our serves, making sure they were on target and getting them down to where we wanted them."
"We always try to go for the spots, not serve it to their libero and a few of the ones that pass it up so good," Scherger added. "So we were trying to go in between people and serve as hard as we could."
Hoover said her team didn't fare as well Saturday as it did during the teams' regular season meeting. But with a young team, the stage of playing in the sectional finals might have gotten to them.
"We just couldn't pass the ball today," Hoover said. "We've been passing it pretty well all year, and today we just didn't pass it. I don't know if it was our nerves or they just have something special on that serve. But, we just played them last week and we did pretty well passing the ball against them. So I think a lot of it was nerves. We're a young team and tournament time and so on. When we were able to attack the ball, we were fairly successful but we couldn't pass the ball today."
Jordan Magers led Old Fort with five kills and Samantha Hartsel chipped in four. Old Fort's roster features five freshmen and Hoover said she is proud of the progress the team has made over the year, including a first-round tournament win.
"It was good we got that first tournament win. It's too bad we had to come against the No. 3 team in the state the next game," she said. "But they can take a lot of positives out of the season because they've come a long, long way from the beginning of the year to the end of the year."
New Riegel will head back to districts, where has lost in the finals the last two years. This year, the Blue Jackets are looking to get over the hump and get the title.
"I think we need to practice really hard this week," Arbogast said. "Get ready and go in there knowing we can do it. Just going out there, going hard the entire time, having lots of confidence."
Calvert and New Riegel will be part of a district semifinal doubleheader Tuesday at Fostoria. The Senecas will face Arlington at 6:15 p.m. with New Riegel facing Carey in the night's second game.