|Updated 11 a.m., Otsego volleyball beats Eastwood (10-1-13)|
|Written by KEVIN GORDON Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor|
|Tuesday, 01 October 2013 20:32|
The Knights showed why they were full of confidence Tuesday night against their arch-rivals. PHOTO GALLERY
Otsego played well offensively and defensively en route to a 25-12, 19-25, 25-19, 25-19 rout of Eastwood, allowing it to take command of the Northern Buckeye Conference.
Otsego is 10-1 in the conference and can wrap up the championship by winning its remaining matches against Lake, Rossford and Fostoria.
Eastwood, which shared first place with Otsego entering Tuesday, is 9-2 in the NBC. Its hopes for a fifth straight league title took a big hit with the loss. Every other team in the NBC has at least three losses.
"We knew if we stayed strong and played to our abilities we would win," said Otsego's Abby Hesselschwardt, who had 21 kills. "Our goal is the league title and we knew we had to come out strong. We connected as a team tonight like we had never done before."
The Knights avenged Eastwood's 30-28, 30-28, 21-25, 17-25, 20-18 victory in a three-hour match Sept. 5.
Otsego, 15-4 overall, is seeking its first league title since 2009 when it shared the Suburban Lakes League championship with Eastwood. The Eagles are 12-4 overall.
"I'm really proud of them," Otsego coach Cheryl Jones said. "I'm tickled we won. I'm tickled everyone did their job, and I'm tickled we did it together."
Although Hesselschwardt, Morgan Smoyer (10 kills) and Mackenzy Varner (37 assists) provided the offense, Otsego won with its defense.
The Knights blocked well and Lindsey Donald, Emily McVeigh, Savannah Schwind and Kylie Asmus seemingly dug up every ball.
Otsego prevented Eastwood from scoring more than four points in any run.
Schwind had 14 digs, followed by Asmus with 10, Donald with seven and McVeigh with six.
"Their defense was amazing the first time we played them, and it was excellent again," Eastwood coach Jeff Beck said. "They read hitters well, they dig well, they're low to the floor and they give their hitters a lot of opportunities to swing."
"We were digging up stuff that blew Eastwood away as far as the incredible volleys that were going back and forth, back and fourth, back and forth," Jones said.
Otsego quickly set the tone by easily winning the first set.
Although Eastwood won the second set, Otsego quickly recovered to regain control during the final two sets.
"We were on our heels all match. We were a very high error team tonight," Beck said. "You can't have a lot of errors against a team that is very clean and in system."
Although Eastwood was the preseseason favorite to win the NBC, Otsego expected to contend for the title.
The Knights have just three seniors (Donald, McVeigh and Schwind). Three sophomores - Smoyer, Varner and Lauren Wynn - have played well in key roles. Hesselschwardt, Amsus and Mallory Beach are juniors.
"I knew we were just going to keep getting better and better and better and better this season. The nine of them are so cohesive now," Jones said.
Now the challenge for Otsego is to continue to play well, and win the NBC outright.
"This is a big win, but we treat every match the same," Hesselschwardt said. "We still have three matches to win the league. We're not going to let up."
Schwind and Donald each had three aces, and Asmus had two.
The Eagles have lost two of their last three NBC matches after entering last week on a 48-game winning streak in league play and ranked 19th in Division II. Eastwood lost a five-set match at Elmwood last week.
Eastwood won the NBC outright in 2011 and 2012, and shared the SLL title with Genoa in 2010.
"If they continue to play like they have been playing, I don't see them losing again," Beck said of Otsego. "Otsego out-played us tonight. We're disappointed because we came here to compete, and we came here to win. We played hard in spurts, but we didn't have any runs."
Eastwood's leaders were: Elise Wolff, 15 kills; Jaci Juergens, 19 digs, 27 kills; Mackenzie Albright, 15 digs; and Bri Hoodlebrink, eight kills.
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 October 2013 10:01|
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