By John Bombatch
One Greene County area girls high school volleyball team earned the respect of a league rival, and another rode the momentum of a first-set comeback to a win during Saturday’s sectional championship action.
Saturday afternoon at Middletown Fenwick High School, the Southwestern Buckeye League’s Southwestern Division co-champion Bellbrook Golden Eagles and Eaton Eagles met for Division III sectional rubber match.
Bellbrook had won when the teams faced each other in Bellbrook earlier in the year; Eaton returned the favor a couple weeks ago to earn a tie for the SWBL Southwestern regular season crown. It took four sets, but Eaton bashed its way to a 25-18, 15-25, 25-21, 25-19 win.
“That’s going to be a strong team in the SWBL for several years to come,” Eaton coach Parker Fields said of Bellbrook after the win. “Their junior varsity squad probably would’ve finished fourth out of the SWBL varsity teams this season. They’ll only be better next season.”
Julia Titus knocked down 16 kills to lead Eaton.
Senior Abby Crotty finished with 16 kills and two blocks for Bellbrook (19-5). She finished the season as the SWBL’s kills leader with 272. Kira Merkle had nine kills and a block, and Golden Eagle teammate Kaitlyn Urbaniak had eight kills and a block.
“That was just our girls trying to win the match,” Bellbrook’s Lynzee Johnson said. “You give so much effort that you’re going overboard. I think that’s where our errors came from. … It was a battle. I wish it could’ve gone to a fifth game, because I think we could’ve given them a real run for their money. But Eaton is a great team, they have some great players. I’m just glad that someone from our league made it out of sectionals. That’s a positive.
“Eaton has a new fan the rest of the way.”
The Eagles (22-3) will next face Cincinnati McNicholas at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Kettering Fairmont’s Trent Arena.
Beavercreek used the momentum of a come-from-behind first-set win to upend Greater Western Ohio Conference foe Lebanon in a Division I sectional title match Saturday night at Vandalia Butler High School.
The Beavers trailed Lebanon, a team they’d split with during the regular season, 23-19, before rallying to a 26-24 win in the first set. Lebanon never seemed to have the same swagger after that and Beavercreek rolled to a 26-24, 25-12, 25-21 win.
“We should’ve won that first set, and we just didn’t know how to get back up for that second set. We’re a very young team, but we’ll learn from this,” Lebanon coach Tim Mersch said. “Beavercreek fought hard, they played a good match and out-hustled us. That was the difference.”
Tiare Saylor led the Beavers with 12 kills and a service ace. Spencer Franck finished with six kills and two aces, Courtney Borgerding had four kills to go with three blocks, and when Beth Boos wasn’t dishing out assists, she smacked four service aces in the win.
“They key thing was serves and service-receive,” Beavers coach Tim Green said. “You can’t set those hitters if you don’t get good passes. We worked on doing that a lot, this week, and we worked on adjusting our timing on our blocks. I think it really paid off tonight.
“We got down early, but our mentality this whole season has been ‘every point counts.’ You can’t come back from that kind of a deficit if you don’t train like that the whole season. You have to have good leadership — which we’ve had all season long — to keep your mental focus in a situation like that.”
Beavercreek (16-6) will now face Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame in the opening round of the district tournament. That match is set for 11 a.m. Saturday at Vandalia Butler High School.