Bulldogs blaze path to title match
Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family volleyball continued its flair for the dramatic on Friday afternoon in another five-set victory, this time in the semifinals over Johnson-Brock, qualifying the Bulldogs for Saturday’s Class D-1 state championship.
HLHF was just hours removed from a five-set, come-from-behind win Thursday night over Diller-Odell when it won the first set Friday morning, but fell behind two sets to one as the clock passed mid-day.
The Bulldogs squandered a six-point lead in the fourth, were forced beyond 25 points before finally putting it away and then trailed 7-5 in the fifth until once again responding with their season on the line.
By virtue of a 25-21, 22-25, 23-25, 27-25, 15-12 win, Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family will now play for the title at 11 a.m. on Saturday against Fremont Bergan.
“I’m so proud of them for being resilient. They get down, they don’t stop, they come back,” coach Cami Oelsligle said. “They know volleyball is a five-set game for a reason. The game isn’t won in one set or two. It takes more than that.”
Exactly like the night before, senior Taya Beller slammed the final point to the floor, setting off a celebration on HLFH’s side of the court. It was Beller’s 28th kill of the match to go with 31 digs.
Beller had 24 the night before in a 19-25, 28-26, 25-21, 23-25, 15-11 win over Diller-Odell.
Friday, she started with six kills in the first, was held to just four in the second, collected six more in the third and then found a rhythm with 10 in the fourth before giving her side a 12-10 lead in the fifth and finishing it with the final point moments later.
“I looked at my setter, and I said, ‘You know where to go,’ ” Oelsligle said of the last point. “When that happens, when the pass is there, you’re kind of ready to jump up from the bench and see it go down.”
Beller, who had to be reminded she also had the final point the night before, said playing five sets on Thursday might have been a major factor in her side staying locked in when the future looked bleak.
“It helped us to stay calm and maintain our composure and know that we could get the next set if we lose one or two,” she said.
Beller’s effort was supported by 10 kills from fellow senior Danie Brandl, seven by freshman Addison Schneider and six by older sister and junior Allie Schneider.
Beller and Addison Schneider also blocked three shots, while sophomore McKenna Roelle served up three aces, Allie Schneider set up 36 assists and five different players collected double-digit digs: Beller’s 31, 39 from Allie Schneider, 23 by junior libero Brittney Veik, 14 from senior Jessica Olmer and 12 by junior Brooklyn Magsamen. That many contributions around the Bulldogs’ 6 foot, 2 inch senior is what Oelsligle said made the difference.
“I would take our setter, our libero and I think our outside hitters did a nice job,” she said. “I would say our supporting cast was stronger than what they had.”
Although set one was a different result than the day before, it was almost an identical beginning to the first few points.
Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family fell behind 5-0 to Diller-Odell on Thursday and eventually lost the match. Thursday, it was a 6-1 deficit to Johnson-Brock but an eventual win.
It turned with the Eagles up 12-6, two hitting errors, a serving error and two blocks gave the Bulldogs their first lead and forced a timeout. Magsamen kept the pressure on at the serving line winning four more points on two Beller kills, a lift call and another Johnson-Brock hitting error.
Magsamen eventually ended her own run with a service error but had started a run of nine straight points to give her team a 15-12 lead. HLHF ran off another four straight points later on, then eventually finished it off on a net violation.
Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family trailed every point over the next two sets and wouldn’t enjoy another lead until scoring the first five points of the fourth.
“Any time we were sleeping, we were caught sleeping. Any time a girl was taking a play off, they found it,” Oelsligle said of the struggles in the middle part of the match. “We had a girl run into a girl on a block or a ball hit between two of our better passer and that doesn’t typically happen.”
A call for two hits, another for a lift, hitting error, a Beller kill and an Olmer block began the turnaround in the fourth. Yet, though Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family jumped out to a 7-1 advantage, Oelsligle was forced to call a timeout when Johnson-Brock fought back and took a 10-11 lead.
The Eagles served up an ace out of the timeout before the Bulldogs finally stopped the run with one of their own on seven straight. Even up 21-13, that lead wasn’t safe.
Johnson-Brock won eight of the next nine rallies and then went on to save two set points before a kill by Allie Schneider, then an ace by Magsamen finally ended it.
“When (we lost the lead in the fourth) I said, ‘Girls, it’s now or never. If you don’t go now, you’re not going to get it. You have to start pushing, before it’s too late if you want to be in that championship,’ ” Oelsligle said. “I think their desire to be there was enough to make them work harder to not let any ball drop or give up on any point and push through.”
Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family led the fifth 4-3, fell behind 8-5 then scored on back-to-back kills, a hitting error, an ace by Brandl and a call for two hits to turn it around to a 10-8 lead.
Back-to-back points later on a Beller kill and a Allie Schneider ace set the stage for Beller’s winner after three straight service errors.
“Hopefully not,” Beller said about the prospects of playing another five-setter in Saturday’s championship match, ” but probably.”
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org