Otsego survives Genoa

Otsego Vs Genoa 10/28/09
Karessia Rowell goes up against the Genoa defense. (Photo: Aaron Carpenter/Sentinel-Tribune)

PERRYSBURG — Otsego’s volleyball team wasn’t particularly sharp Wednesday night.
But in a match where the Knights’ execution and skills weren’t consistently good, Otsego won with grit
and determination. [SEE

The Knights survived for a 25-23, 25-11, 25-19 win over Genoa in the semifinals of the Division III
district tournament at Perrysburg High School.
Otsego, 21-3 overall, plays Lakota (20-4) for the district championship and a berth in next week’s
regional Saturday night at 6. Lakota was a 25-20, 25-18, 25-8 winner over Lake in Wednesday’s first
The Knights — who have seven returning letter winners from last season when they lost in the district
final — have faced a difficult week.
Ashley Holzwart sprained her ankle in last Thursday’s win over Liberty Center and missed her second
straight match. The senior is one of the team’s best all-around players and one of its vocal leaders on
the court. Her absence affects the team in every aspect of the game.
In addition, most of the Knights have been battling the flu and they played even though they were sick.

Compounding Otsego’s problems, Genoa (14-10) matched the Knights’ grit and determination.
The Comets — swept twice by Otsego in lopsided matches during the Suburban Lakes League season —
rebounded to play well. Genoa’s blocking and ability to dig up many of the Knights’ kill attempts
frustrated Otsego.
Genoa attacked aggressively and found holes in Otsego’s usually-reliable defense.
“This was amazing, everything considered,” Otsego coach Cheryl Jones said. “I’m really proud of the
The Knights held an 11-7 lead in Game 1, but Genoa rallied to within one point seven different times
later in the game, the last coming at 24-23. But they never allowed Genoa to tie the score before Baley
Bernthisel ended the game with an off-speed skill.
“Winning that first game was huge because it’s such a confidence booster,” said Otsego setter Autumn
Berry, who had 23 assists. “It was such a relief because Genoa really came after us. They had us on our
“You have to keep smiling and keep your head up, even when things aren’t going well. You can’t get down.
We just had to keep working hard.”
Otsego bounced back with solid play in Game 2, building a 4-0 lead and later going on a 6-0 run for an
11-2 lead.
Kills by Chelsea Bollenbacher and Bernthisel and an ace by Berry helped Otsego to its 4-0 lead. The 6-0
spurt was fueled by a combined block by Bernthisel and Bollenbacher, and a kill and a block by
Bernthisel. Bernthisel had six kills and four blocks in Game 2.
Genoa held a 15-14 lead in Game 3, but Otsego answered with six straight points to put the match away.
Katelyn Downing served an ace, and Hannah Greulich and Karessia Rowell had kills in the run.
Otsego’s four healthy seniors — Bernthisel, Berry, Bollenbacher and Downing — led the way on the court
and Holzwart was on the bench offering encouragement.
All seven of Otsego’s primary varsity players have played at least two varsity seasons, including
Bernthisel, Berry and Holzwart, who are in their fourth year; and Downing, who is in her third year.
Bernthisel and Berry carried the Otsego offense. Bernthisel was 29-of-29 hitting with 16 kills. She also
had six blocks. Bollenbacher had eight kills, while Downing had seven digs.
Freshman Megan Bundy and sophomore Jenna Strain have filled in for Holzwart.
“The seniors are used to a lot of adversity and they’ve dealt with whatever’s been thrown at them during
their careers,” Jones said. “They’re very talented and you need seniors to step it up. You expect a lot
out of your seniors and you expect them to produce and they should produce. They absolutely did.”
Jones said Holzwart would play against Lakota, although Holzwart was still limping.
“Everyone has to pick up the slack and work even harder,” Berry said. “We muddled through things and
found a way to win. We’ve been here before so we know what to expect and that helped us out.”