It wasn’t easy by any means, but the Defiance volleyball team evened its record at 1-1 by capturing a five set thriller over Eastwood on Saturday in its home opener, 25-14, 15-25, 25-23, 22-25 and 15-10.
Defiance senior outside hitter Janelle Bryant finished off the win with an unconventional kill. Bryant, in the back row, defended an Eastwood kill attempt, bumping the ball over the net and down the left sideline, where Eastwood was not able to reach it before the ball hit the court.
“After that first game (a 25-14 win for Defiance), I knew that Eastwood wasn’t going to roll over,” said Defiance coach Jolene Williams. “They’re very loud (vocal) and very fast and that’s the way they were today. I was very proud of the (Defiance) girls for never giving up on the court and for pushing through.They kept pushing and never stopped.”
The Defiance service game seemed to catch Eastwood off guard in the first game. Defiance collected eight service aces in the initial contest, leading to the 11-point win.
The Bulldogs also self-destructed a lot on the serving end, however, giving Eastwood 16 points off Defiance serving errors.
“That was uncharacteristic of us and we are definitely going to have to work on our serving,” Williams said. “But so did Eastwood (which had 17 serving errors).”
It was feast or famine, then, for Eastwood. The Eagles (1-1) collected 10 aces, including five in the turnaround game two, which was all Eastwood at the end.
“I knew Defiance was going to be good, because though we had beaten them three years straight, I have watched their seniors grow up from when they were all sophomores,” said Eastwood coach Jeff Beck. “Now they are very experienced. I told the girls after that first game that we needed to get back to what we do well, which was be aggressive from the service line. And when we were able to find our middle hitters, they played well.”
Eastwood knocked down 34 kills. Brenna Moenter led the way with eight kills, while Anna Remlow and Mia Stephenson each had seven kills.
For Defiance, setter Jordan Davis struggled at times. She was whistled for several double hits and committed 10 setting errors. But she rebounded to finish with 25 assists.
“I couldn’t let a call determine my whole mindset for the (match) and I just kept at it,” Davis said. “It felt really good for all of us to get back on the court and get a win, to show what we can do this year.”
In Eastwood’s second game, the Lady Eagles led by just 11-10, but took command with an 11-1 run. Eastwood tallied eight consecutive points, for a 19-10 lead. Alivia Schroeder had three aces in the run.
After a Defiance point off an Eastwood service error, two Moenter kills put Eastwood up, 22-11. Defiance cut the gap to 23-15 off an Eastwood serving error, a Kaylee Brashear block and a Bryant service ace. But Eastwood answered with the final two points of the game, off a Defiance serving error and a hitting error.
In game three, Eastwood held the lead through most of the game and led, 20-16, before Defiance rallied. The Lady Bulldogs scored six straight points to take the lead for the first time in the game, at 21-20. During the run, Brashear collected a kill, Courtney Daeger had a block and Bryant, an ace.
The two teams then traded two service errors each, to put Defiance up, 23-22. Eastwood tied the match on a Carlee Lepiarz kill. But Defiance then won the third game off kills from Brashear and Kendall Black, for a 25-23 win.
Eastwood then responded back with a nailbiting 25-22 win in game four, to force the fifth game. With Eastwood clinging to a 21-20 lead, a Defiance hitting error and kills from Eastwood’s Alyssa Hoodlebrink and Stephenson put Eastwood up, 24-20.
An Eastwood hitting error and a Brashear kill brought Defiance to within 24-22. But Defiance was then ruled in the net, giving Eastwood the 24-22 win.
In the fifth game, Defiance led, 5-3, after three Black kills and a Bryant kill. Eastwood rallied to take a 6-5 lead, on a Moenter kill, an ace from Anna Ramlow and a Defiance rotation error.
But the Lady Bulldogs responded with five straight points, to take command, at 10-6. Bryant had a kill and an ace, Black had a block and there were two Eastwood hitting errors.
But Eastwood responded, closing the gap to 10-9, on a Defiance service error, a hitting error and an ace from Moenter.
After a Defiance time out, the Lady Bulldogs responded with four straight points. Three Eastwood errors, on a serve, hitting error and getting ruled in the net, along with a Brashear kill, put Defiance up, 14-9. A Defiance service error brought the score to 14-10, before Bryant’s kill gave Defiance the match win.
“That last game, the turning point was that the girls didn’t have a commitment to defense and weren’t moving their feet (enough),” Beck said. “We have a veteran group, with four juniors and seniors. But we are also very young, with five sophomores and a freshman. This was good for the young girls to see this type of game early, going five games. They can learn something from that. And Defiance is experienced and played very well.”
Interestingly, Defiance won all three of its games while playing on the north side of the court.
“Our fans were awesome, too, today and were on that side of the court,” said Defiance assistant coach Brooke McCarrier. “I think that’s whey the girls liked that side of the court so much.”
Bryant finished with 12 kills, five aces, 19 digs and was 20-21 in serve receive for Defiance. Brashear had 11 kills, three blocks, was 10-12 in serve receive and had 21 digs, Courtney Daeger had five blocks and three kills and Kendall Black had nine kills and four blocks.
Davis had three kills and 12 digs and Tori Vukadinovich had three assists, was 27-30 in serve receive and had 27 digs, while Ashley Tettenhorst was 9-12 in serve receive and collected 14 digs.
“Tori did a really nice job reacting to Eastwood’s hitters and Courtney and Kendall did a good job,” Williams said. “They were present, moving around and seeing the ball. Kaylee played outstanding. She went all out and didn’t have much left when it was over.”
Next, Defiance travels to Van Wert on Monday, August 26, for the WBL opener.
Defiance def. Eastwood, 25-14, 15-25, 25-23, 22-25 and 15-10
Eastwood (1-1) — Morgan McMillin 3 kills; Anna Ramlow 7 kills; Brenna Moenter 8 kills; Alyssa Hoodlebrink 4 kills; Carlee Lepiarz 5 kills; Mia Stephenson 9 kills.
Defiance (1-1) — Tori Vukadinovich 3-4 hitting, 14-14 setting, 3 assists, 21-22 serving, 27-30 serve receive, 27 digs; Ashley Tettenhorst 6-10 serving, 9-12 serve receive, 14 digs; Abby Elwood 12-15 hitting, 3-4 setting, 4 digs; Kaylee Brashear 29-33 hitting, 11 kills, 3 blocks, 17-19 serving, 7-8 setting, 10-12 serve receive, 21 digs; Kendall Black 19-19 hitting, 9 kills, 4 blocks, 2-3 setting, 9-10 serving; Courtney; Daeger 6-8 hitting, 3 kills, 5 blocks; Jordan Davis 9-11 hitting, 3 kills, 80-90 setting, 25 assists, 11-14 serving, 12 digs; Janelle Bryant 31-38 hitting, 12 kills, 20-23 serving, 5 aces,20-21 serve receive, 19 digs.
Reserves: Defiance, 27-25, 25-17.