By Rob Kiser
Piqua Daily Call
TROY — It wouldn’t have been fitting if it went any other way.
The two dominant volleyball teams in the Miami Valley League — Troy and Tippecanoe — met at Troy High School in a match that for all practical purposes would determine whether Tippecanoe was outright MVL champions or Troy would gain a share of the title.
While the two teams both have two MVL matches left — they are a combined 28-0 against the rest of the conference.
And just like the first meeting, it took five sets to decide — with Troy winning this time, to leave both teams at 15-1 in the conference.
Tippecanoe is now 19-1 overall and Troy is 18-2 after the Trojans 15-25, 25-16, 25-20, 18-25, 15-11 win.
“This has always been an intense match,” Troy coach Michelle Owen said. “But, I think the intensity really picked up when they joined the league (the GWOC and now both are in the MVL). Tipp struggled for a few years, but Howard Garcia has done a great job turning the program around.”
And the two teams have shown they are very evenly matched.
“Who is the underdog (coming in) — I guess us because we were 18-2 and they were 20-0,” Owen said. “I felt like we were more tested (with their schedule). I don’t know that we had anything to lose except maybe our string of league championships. But, I am not sure that continues now that we are in the MVL.”
Garcia felt his team felt some pressure with being undefeated.
“I think because we were in command (winning the first match), maybe we got a little tight tonight” he said. “I thought Troy played looser. It is not that we lost. If you lose, you want to play good volleyball and I felt like we did that.”
And with the match on the line, it was Morgan Baber at the service line for the Trojans.
After a Tipp net foul gave Troy a 14-11 lead and three match points, Baber finished things with an ace setting off a celebration as Troy students ran out onto the floor.
“I changed the rotation, so Morgan (Baber) would be serving first,” Owen said. “She has done a great job. Really all nine girls did, whatever their role was. We were running a 6-2 earlier in the year and our other setter (Morgan Kaiser) tore her ACL. So, we have switched to a 5-1 with Morgan.”
The match had started with Tipp finishing the first set on a 9-1 run after Troy had closed within 16-14.
“That is not the first time we have started slow,” Owen said with a laugh. “That 25-6 (loss) with Versailles in the first set is nothing to brag about.”
Troy quickly changed the momentum in set two.
Baber started a 4-0 run with an ace and a kill by Pfieffer.
Tipp got as close as 12-9, before Troy pulled away, with Anna Boezi having a kill at 24-16 to even the match.
“Anna (Boezi) has been attacking a lot more since we have gone to 5-1,” Owen said. “I don’t think Tippecanoe had seen that in the first match. I thought that was big for us to get off to a fast start in the second set. We talked about that (between the first and second sets).”
It was Tippecanoe who started off with a 4-0 in the third set with Alayna Titley at the service line.
Troy quickly recovered and the set was even until late in the set.
With Troy leading 19-18, Brianna Slusher had a kill, then served three straight points that included kills by Kate Orban and Baber to make it 23-18.
Ashley Aselage had a kill to get Tipp within 23-20 and led to a Troy timeout.
After a kill by Carly Pfieffer, Baber served the final point to put Tipp in a 2 sets to 1 deficit for the first time all season.
“I felt like our serve receive broke down in sets two and three and you saw what happened,” Garcia said. “When we got back to receiving serve in the fourth set like we should, things turned back around.”
Things changed with Troy leading 7-4 in the fourth set when Corinn Siefring stepped to the service line.
Siefring served 11 straight points to give Tipp a 15-7 lead.
Kaitlyn Husic had four kills in the run, while Rachel Wildermuth had two kills and a block and Siefring had a back-row kill.
“I thought (Kaitlyn) Husic really stepped up tonight,” Garcia said. “And she is always a strong server.”
Tipp rode that momentum to a 25-18 win, with Siefring finishing the set off with a kill to force a deciding fifth set.
“I know (about the big service run),” Owen said. “It was strange because that has been a strong rotation for us all year. It was something different every time. We would have a perfect pass and a perfect set and we would either have a hitting error or they would have a block.”
The race to 15 was even 3-3 in the early going.
Pfieffer had a block for a sideout and on Orban’s serve, Lauren Schmitz had a big block and Orban had an ace to make it 6-3.
With three more kills by Schmitz and one by Slusher — along with an ace by Genna Coleman, Troy took an 11-5 lead.
Again, Siefring stepped to the service line at 11-6 and served three points — with a kill and tip by Husic to cut the deficit to 11-9 and lead to a Troy timeout.
A series of sideouts left the score at 13-11, before Troy finished things with the net foul and ace.
Slusher led Troy’s hitters with 12 kills, while Schmitz had 10 kills, four blocks and nine digs. Boezi had nine kills, Pfieffer had five kills and three blocks and Orban added five kills. Baber added six kills and 44 assists and Emmie Jackson had 21 digs to lead the defense. Coleman had six digs and four aces and Ella Furlong had seven digs.
Siefring led Tippecanoe with 17 kills and four blocks, Aselage added 12 kills, Rachel Wildermuth had nine kills and three blocks, Husic had eight kills and Molly Achterberg added three blocks. Husic served three aces and Titley added two. Rachel Wildermuth dished out 25 assists and Emily Graham had 21. Abby Hughes led the defense with 25 digs, Siefring had 12 and Titley added 10.
“I think we could have won with a few breaks,” Garcia said. “But, you have to make your own breaks. There were times we didn’t get to balls like we should and or balls found a seam. We didn’t take advantage when Troy gave us free balls. If we played a third time, I don’t know who would win. But, of course we don’t.”
Instead Tippecanoe will host Sidney Tuesday and Butler Thursday, while Troy will host Stebbins Tuesday before traveling to Piqua Thursday.
After a match that was fitting of the two teams on the floor Wednesday night.
Contact Piqua Daily Call Sports Editor Rob Kiser at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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