Columbian eliminated by Truckers

PHOTO BY JONATHON BIRD Columbian’s Lexi Smith attempts to fire a shot past Norwalk’s Mya Neurberger and Delaney Thomas during a Division II district semifinal match in Attica Monday.

ATTICA –No doubt losing Addi Conti to an injury changed the Columbian volleyball team.

The Tornadoes looked exactly like that Monday –that they were missing the big piece of a puzzle and Norwalk took advantage.

The Truckers made quick work of Columbian, 25-23, 25-15, 25-15, in a Division II district semifinal at Seneca East High School.

“It is going to be tough losing a player like Addi,” Columbian coach Hope Boes said. “It forced our other girls on the floor to step up and play and they did well.”

The Tornadoes finish the season at 17-8.

“Norwalk is a good team,” Boes said. “Our lack of communication tonight hurt. It seemed like not just one person was off –we were all a little bit off.”

Norwalk and Columbian split two meetings in Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division action, each winning on the other’s home court. Columbian won, 21-25, 25-18, 25-23, 7-25, 15-13 Aug. 27 while Norwalk picked up a 14-25, 25-12, 25-22, 25-20 victory Sept. 19.

“I think at the end of the day, our level of experience won out,” Norwalk coach Sarah Kipp said. “I don’t doubt for one second that Tiffin is a good team. You can not take anything away from there.”

Columbian jumped out to a quick lead, playing well early against Norwalk (16-9). A kill by Rylie Roggow gave the Tornadoes a 10-5 lead.

The Truckers responded with the next five points to tie the game and Columbian held a slim 15-14 lead later. The Tornadoes opened a 19-15 lead when Amara Solomon registered a kill, but that is seemingly when Norwalk kicked it into another gear.

Delaney Thomas had a block before kills from Mya Neuberger and Elyse Balduff cut the lead to one. Norwalk finished off a 7-0 run when Marie Clouse tallied a kill. Columbian won the next three points to tie the game at 22, but kills from Balduff, Delaney Thomas, and Neuberger gave the Truckers the early lead.

“We made adjustments for the night,” Boes said. “We did different little things here and there. It just was not our night. Norwalk is a good team.”

Norwalk did not relent much in Game 2. The Truckers won four points in a row –two kills by Carly Bilton and an ace by Neuberger –to open a 10-6 lead. The margin was 11-8 when Bilton blasted another kill before Balduff served up three aces in a four-point span as the margin ballooned to 18-8.

Columbian got as close as seven points, but a kill by Thomas, along with two errors by the Tornadoes pushed Norwalk into firm control.

“It is tough,”Boes said. “Norwalk has several good hitters. They do not just go to one person over and over. It is tough to block.”

As if the Truckers were not playing well enough, it was showcased even more in Game 3. Claire Kelley won five of the first nine points for Norwalk via kill. By that point, Norwalk was already ahead 9-2.

The Truckers controlled the rest of the game and was never threatened by the Tornadoes. A kill from Balduff made it 23-14 and Thomas put down a kill before an error by the Tornadoes gave Norwalk the convincing win.

“It was the normal momentum swings of volleyball,” Boes said. “I did not feel like anything had changed. We continued to battle until the very end. It just was not our night.”

Kelley tallied 16 digs and 10 kills to lead Norwalk. Clouse and Bilton each had six kills.

“We were in Columbian’s shoes last year against Willard in the district semifinal when you literally just can not get anything to click,”Kipp said. “hat is frustrating. We capitalized on that.”

Roggow led Columbian with 11 digs and eight kills while MaKenna Kidwell, Toria Ingalls, and Solomon each had four kills. Olivia Jacobs registered 14 assists while Kenadie Sherman added nine assists and three digs.

“We graduate three seniors,”said Boes of Kidwell, Solomon, and Brook Boes. ” still have the majority of our squad back next year and some young talent coming up. We had a great season. We had some injuries halfway through, but we hung in and battled.”