Galion’s quest for the 2015 Ohio High School Athletic Association volleyball championship got off to a strong start after sweeping Willard 3-0 from its home court Wednesday evening.
The No. 4 seed Tigers (16-7), defeated Willard, 25-22, 25-20, 25-16, in its first postseason match of the Div. III Attica District. Galion had defeated the No. 12 seed Crimson Flashes (7-16) in five sets during a non-conference match on Willard’s turf in late August.
But the memory of losing the first two sets in that game was still fresh and alive for the Lady Tigers.
“I knew coming in they were going to have a chip on their shoulders,” said Galion head coach Jaime Valentine.
With a different lineup compared with August’s match, the Lady Tigers recorded 53 kills, 53 digs, 48 assists and served for 35 points to win the match. That’s up from 49 kills, 44 assists and 47 digs but down from serving for 57 points when playing against Willard in August.
“They did a good job,” Valentine said.
During the first set, Galion and Willard were scoring evenly until the Crimson Flashes took a 11-6 lead. Taylor Valentine spiked the ball to tie the score at 14 that helped the Tigers take control.
Valentine had a total of 22 kills and 14 digs. Bradlee Saterfield recorded 44 assists.
“They (Tigers) played exactly as I thought they would,” said Willard head coach Justin Rohrer.
He said his team struggled with Valentine’s performance and could not make the needed kills at the right time. With three seniors on the team, Rohrer said his team is young with not enough varsity experience.
But he thought the Lady Crimson Flashes played better this time compared with its previous match against Galion in August, even though the first one lasted five sets.
“This will help us in the future,” he said.
Taylor said the team was a “little timid” at the beginning of the game.
“Once it got started, it got better,” she said.
Taylor got Tigers fans cheering when she tied the game, 7-7, early on in the second set. Despite a 7-2 run, Willard was unable to maintain its lead when Marisa Gwinner spiked the ball to tie the game at 15. She later had the winning spike for the second set with a 25-20 rout.
The Lady Tigers took the first four points of the third set and were able to maintain its lead to win the match.
Gwinner also recorded a total of 22 kills.
“I’m so pumped for next week,” Gwinner said. “I just want to come out strong.”
Valentine said the team’s blocking game needs to be improved. The Lady Tigers recorded five blocks and 16 block errors.
Wednesday’s performance for the Lady Tigers is on track compared to last year. During the 2014 postseason, Galion won its first and second tournament match respectively against Sandusky and Bellevue, before losing to Norwalk in the district semifinals.
“We have high expectations (this season),” coach Valentine said.
Galion will head north to take on No. 3 seed Ashland Crestview (14-8) 6:30 p.m. Oct. 24 in an attempt to qualify for the district semifinals.
Reach Klein at 419-468-1117 ext. 2048 or on Twitter at @brandoneklein