LIMA -- Defiance did everything it could but in the end it wasn't enough as the Bulldogs fell short in the Division II sectional volleyball tournament on Wednesday to St. Marys, 25-17, 25-23, 25-19.
It wasn't that Defiance (13-10) wasn't ready for the challenge, but more that the Roughriders (18-5) were a formidable opponent according to coach Brooke Buti.
"They're a really good team and we knew that going into it," she said. "We were prepared, we watched the film from the last time we played them and we understood we needed to make a lot less errors than we had the first time. That was a big focus, not making our own errors because they are a tough team and they would make us have some errors anyway."
Things didn't bode well for the Bulldogs at the start as they got in a hole early due to a number of unforced errors and trailed 5-1 in game one. But Defiance charged back behind kills from Sam Murray, Megan Sewell and three in a row by Demma Strausbaugh later made it 9-8 St. Marys. The action remained back and forth with Defiance again closing to within one at 14-13 before Roughrider coach Tricia Rosenbebeck called a timeout. St. Marys scored eight of the next 11 points on Defiance miscues to close out the game with a 25-17 win.
In game two, the momentum seemed to lean Defiance's way as it cruised to a 9-4 lead behind a number of kills by Sewell, Libby Burkhart and Strausbaugh. But again, things seemed to fall apart as the Roughriders regained their footing late in the match with an ace by Kiley Schamp and a kill by Lexi Roop before Jenny Brown closed it out with a big block for a 25-23 victory.
"If we picked up the momentum, they would get another point on us and it killed the momentum," admitted Buti. "That's what we talked about going into game three I said 'let's get this one and then we have two more to play and the momentum swings from here.'"
Again the Bulldogs jumped out to an early 5-3 lead in game three, this time on a pair of blocks by Sewell and Strausbaugh and a kill by Sarah Sanford and some unforced errors by St. Marys. Then the Roughriders seemed to settle down and took control of the game with their first lead at 13-12 following two straight Defiance miscues. From that point, the Roughriders never trailed again, although Defiance was able to knot it up at 19 later on before a kill by Roop, four unforced errors by the Bulldogs and a kill by Haley Hicks sealed the victory for St. Marys at 25-19.
"We jumped ahead at times and then they caught back up, so it was a good battle," explained Buti. "In the end, it was hard to see them pull ahead for good but we both played tough."
Buti doesn't necessarily feel that any one part of her team's game was a reason for the loss, rather a combination of little things seemed to add up.
"I thought my offense did a pretty good job of hitting to the open spots and our blockers played well tonight," she said. "We struggled with serve receive and that made it difficult to be able to run the offense consistently. You could tell when we were up we played well and we were talking but we would get some points scored on us and make mistakes and that would kill the drive."
Sanford paced the Bulldogs with 7-7 serving, 8-11 hitting and 4 kills, 50-53 setting with 15 assists and 12 digs while Strausbaugh went 6-6 serving, 35-41 hitting with 17 kills, 4 blocks and 9 digs.
Kiley Schamp led the Roughriders with four kills and three aces.
St. Marys will now face Wapak on Saturday at 7:15 p.m. after it pulled out a five-set win over Bath, 19-25, 25-7, 25-17, 20-25, 15-7.
Despite the setback, Defiance volleyball had a very productive year in the win column behind four outgoing seniors Megan Relyea, Sarah Sanford, Kayle Pasterz and Jade Frederick.
"From last year we doubled our wins, that's huge in itself," stated Buti. "These seniors will really be missed because they're great leaders and the whole team gets along well. I think that's especially important with girls this age to be able to do that."
Losing the foursome will set Defiance back, at least for a little bit, but Buti is confident that she has the talent returning to have a productive year in 2012.
"We have two starting positions to fill out of six so that's pretty good," she concluded. "They're two huge positions in our libero and our setter but I think we have some younger girls coming up to fill those roles. We are going to be okay."
At Lima Senior
St. Marys def. Defiance, 25-17, 25-23, 25-19.
Defiance (13-10)- Megan Relyea 5-7 serving; Megan Sewell 9-10 hitting, 3 kills, 4 blocks; Sarah Sanford 7-7 serving, 8-11 hitting, 4 kills, 50-53 setting, 15 assists, 12 digs; Kayle Pasterz 9-10 serving, 26-32 serve receive, 11 digs; Paige Mathewson 10-13 serving, 26-29 setting, 8 assists, 3 digs; Jade Frederick 4 blocks; Demma Strausbaugh 6-6 serving, 35-41 hitting, 17 kills, 4 blocks, 9 digs; Sam Murray 13-15 serving, 20-24 hitting, 11-12 serve receive, 12 digs; Libby Burkhart 7-8 hitting, 6 blocks.
St. Marys (18-5) - Jenny Brown 4 kills; Kiley Schamp 4 kills, 3 aces; Marie Bertke 4 kills; Haley Hicks 4 kills.