By DAVE HANNEMAN
OTTAWA — With a name like Super, would you expect anything less?
Toledo St. Ursula’s Rachel Super hammered four kills among her team’s first five points, had eight in the first set and finished with 16 overall in leading the Arrows to a 26-24, 25-15, 25-23 win over Ottawa-Glandorf on Tuesday in a matchup of state-ranked volleyball powers at O-G’s Robert J. Hermiller Gymnasium.
“She’s one of our two returning offensive players, so we try to get them involved early in the game to set the tone and create some confidence,” said second-year St. Ursula coach Sydney Antonio.
Super’s play did that. But O-G, a regional qualifier the past two years and ranked fourth in the state among Ohio’s Division III schools in the first volleyball coaches poll of the 2017 season, wasn’t going down quietly.
Ottawa-Glandorf rallied to tie the first set 10-10 and again 15-15 on kills by senior right side hitter Carly Alt. A double hit on St. Ursula and three straight ace serves by Alt pushed O-G ahead 19-15. St. Ursula rallied behind kills by Mariah Paulette, a 6-foot-2 senior middle blocker, Hannah Best and Super. But Carly Alt hammered one kill, Erica Annesser added another and sophomore outside hitter Taylor Alt pounded a third to put O-G up 23-21.
When Sydney Heitmeyer’s serve hit the foot of a St. Ursula player as she stood on the sideline, the Titans were a point away from winning the opening set.
O-G wasn’t facing the kind of team that would roll over and die, though. One of the dominant Division I programs in the state, St. Ursula has made 11 trips to the state tournament over the past 17 seasons, winning big-school titles in 2004 and 2010 and bringing home the runner-up trophy in 2000, 2005, 2011 and 2013.
The crunch-time quality of the Arrows, ranked 14th in the Division I state coaches poll, showed as they rattled off five straight points to win the set. Paulette had a powerful kill to trim the deficit to 24-22 and, after a service error and a block, Super capped it with two serves the Titans could not return.
Paulette (5 kills) and Anna Henry (4 kills, 1 block) did most of the damage as St. Ursula controlled the second set. The Arrows then went ahead 8-3, 12-7 and 16-12 in the third set, but again O-G rallied. Heitmeyer’s kill, back-to-back blocks by Carly Alt and Christina Tippie, and a left-handed spike by Carly Alt put O-G up 17-16. Paulette, who finished with 14 kills in the match, powered two kills, Henry had a block and Jordyn Foos got an ace off a net-deflected serve as St. Ursula forged back in front 23-19.
O-G answered with three straight kills by Taylor Alt to cut it to 24-23, but a service error earned St. Ursula the match-winning point.
“There are four or five things we saw in this game that we want to continue to work on,” said O-G coach Ann Ellerbrock. “But I can’t fault our effort. We have some older girls and some younger girls out there, some seniors and some sophomores that I thought really played well together.”
Carly Alt was 20 for 21 spiking and led Ottawa-Glandorf with eight kills and 11 digs. Taylor Alt, 36 for 42 spiking, had seven kills. Kendra Kahle was 96 for 102 setting with 26 assists. Tippie led the Titans with five blocks.
O-G fell to 8-2 with the loss, but Ellerbrock feels what O-G gained is invaluable.
“When it came time to decide who we wanted to schedule, we tried to get some really tough teams,” said Ellerbrock, adding that O-G also picked up a match with Fort Loramie this season.
“This is a really good measuring stick to see where we are at this point in the season. We can’t generate that kind of competition in practice with our JV team and sub players. We can’t match that pace of the game.
“We can’t mimic anything like this, so this experience is only going to make us better.”
ACES: Kendra Kahle 3, Carly Alt 3, Sydney Heitmeyer 3.. KILLS: C. Alt 8, Taylor Alt 7. SPIKING: C. Alt 20-21, T. Alt 36-42. ASSISTS: Kahle 26. SETTING: Kahle 96-102. DIGS: C. Alt 11. BLOCKS: Christina Tippie 5.
JUNIOR VARSITY: Ottawa-Glandorf, 23-25, 27-25, 25-19.
FRESHMEN: Toledo St. Ursula, 25-9, 25-22.
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