Bucks outlast Warriors in 5
SYCAMORE — It was only fitting.
After two five-game wars last year, Thursday came down to the final game as well.
In the end, the hitting of Buckeye Central was too much, as the Bucks slipped by Mohawk, 19-25, 25-21, 22-25, 25-14, 15-10, in Northern 10 Athletic Conference action.
“It would be nice if we could get it to go our way and it not be quite as long,” a smiling Buckeye Central coach Paige Caudill said. “What an awesome rivalry to have. It is great to come and play in this gym.”
Buckeye Central (3-0, 2-0 N10) actually fell behind early in Game 5 before rallying. A serving error was followed by consecutive errors to put the Warriors (0-2, 0-1) up 4-1. Mohawk maintained a two-point lead after Paityn Clouse clocked one of her team-high 14 kills.
But, three straight errors by Mohawk gave Buckeye Central a lead it would not relinquish. After a block by Clouse tied the game at 8, Claudia Pifher recorded a kill and a service ace by Kendra Ackerman forced Mohawk coach Eric Hoover into a timeout.
The margin was still two points when Mohawk committed two errors and Lauren Mann put down a kill to give the Bucks the tough road win.
“The N10 teams come to play,” Caudill said. “It is never just a wash out. Any match we come in here for the N10 is a big deal. Everybody in the league wants the title.”
It is not the first time this week that the Warriors have fell in five games. On Tuesday, Mohawk dropped a tough decision to Tiffin Columbian in five games.
“We are right there,” Hoover said. “That is two very good teams we have played in the first two matches. We were up 2-1 in both. We just have to find a way to get over the top. We need a little more consistency in a couple areas.”
It was the Warriors that jumped out to the early lead on Buckeye Central. The Bucks led most of Game 1 and even owned a 15-11 lead after two kills and a block from Lexi Evak. But, Mohawk drew within 17-14 before scoring the next six points.
A kill by Alivia Niese kept the Bucks close at 21-19, but Catherine Klopp owned the rest of the game. She recorded two kills and a block, and a net violation on Buckeye Central gave Mohawk the opening game.
“They are jumpers,” Caudill said. “You want to try to make sure you get some hands on them because they hang in the air and they wait. If your girls are on the way down, their hitters are going to have an easier attack.”
The Bucks bounced back in the second game. A kill by Tess Weinandy cut the Buckeye Central lead to 11-10, but the next five points — capped on an ace by Lydia Ackerman and kill by Evak — went to the Bucks.
Mohawk had a push in it, though. The Warriors went on an 8-2 run to tie the game at 18. Buckeye Central, as all good teams do, responded quickly to shut down the Mohawk rally. The Bucks scored four straight points and later, a kill by Evak, and an ace from Mackenzie Phenicie tied the match.
“Lexi holds blockers,” Caudill said. “She did a nice job. She is going to come out and get some big points for us. She is an excellent player for us. They have to honor her and that makes our other hitters better because of that.”
Knowing Game 3 could certainly swing the momentum of the match, both teams kicked the intensity up. Neither team budged and neither team surged in the back-and-forth action.
Both teams held leads of two points on different occasions, but never greater than that until the end of the game. The two were tied at 17, 18, 19, 21, and 22 points before Mohawk made its move. The Bucks were called for a four-hits error before back-to-back kills from Clouse and Weinandy put the Warriors ahead, 2-1.
“It is a great experience for any team,” Caudill said. “Going these five, long games forces the kids to grow up. You have to stick with it the whole time.”
Not wanting to fall behind early in the standings, Buckeye Central pushed the pace in Game 4. The Bucks never trailed and slowly but surely put distance between themselves and Mohawk.
The lead was just 11-10, but Evak put down three kills and Niese added two as the margin ballooned to 18-13. Clouse registered a kill out of a Mohawk timeout, but the last seven points went to Buckeye Central to again force a fifth game between the two elite programs.
“Buckeye Central did a better job serving the last two games, I thought,” Hoover said. “That probably made it a little more difficult on us. Their hitters other than Evak did much better. She was consistently good, but the other ones were more efficient.”
Klopp (seven blocks) and Weinandy (eight digs) each had nine kills for Mohawk. Emma Thiery added eight kills, while Alexa Konkle tallied 36 assists, 10 digs, and five kills. Ellie Shaw led the Warriors with 23 digs, Marah Gillig added 14 digs, Jordan Tyree had 12 digs, and Clouse contributed nine digs and four blocks.
“We have to get stops on defense,” said Hoover of his team’s goals when Evak was not on the floor. “We have to be able to dig the ball and get some blocks. We just did not make those plays when she was out in Games 4 and 5.”
Evak led all players with 20 kills to go with four blocks. Kendra Ackerman smacked 10 kills, while Niese and Mann each had nine kills. Mackenzie Phenicie tallied 26 assists, Claudia Pifher had 24
assists, Parker Phenicie picked up 28 digs, and Lydia Ackerman had 10 digs.