Hitting was the name of the game Tuesday in the Orange Pit at Columbus East where the host Olympians battled a stubborn Seymour squad en route to a four-set victory.
The East hammer brigade proved to be too deep for the Owls, who had to choose between closing off the Olympians’ towering middle hitters or slowing the hosts’ high-energy outside attack. In the end, there were just too many weapons wearing orange in a 25-21, 25-23, 20-25, 25-19 win.
“Seymour played us tough and they have some players that are true momentum changers,” East coach Stacie Pagnard said. “They paid a lot of attention to the middle, which allowed our outside hitters to step up.”
Indeed they did.
Time and again junior Cortney VanLiew and senior Katie Mack blasted kills for key points throughout the evening. VanLiew battered the Owls with a team-leading 16 kills, including four straight in the fourth game that pushed the lead to 21-14.
Mack, who added 12 kills, had three hammers in the final stretch, as well as several momentum-swinging spikes in the earlier battles. The tandem also played strong defense, helping the crew with a combined 47 digs, including 30 from VanLiew.
Meanwhile, junior Bailey Western was still a force in the middle as she slammed out 15 kills, including the final points in both the second and fourth game. She also teamed with Mack for a pair of blocks, while 6-foot seniors Kortney Thalls and Brooke Statler also provided big hits up front.
Kendal Williams paced East with 31 assists. AJ Pollert added 12 assists and also registered 15 digs.
“Cortney and Katie really came through for us in that fourth game,” said Pagnard. “But I thought we also had several others step up as we started getting back into the swing of things.”
The Class 4A No. 9 Olympians (10-2) hadn’t played in more than a week, and Seymour (8-6) took full advantage of their foe’s rustiness with several momentum-changing plays of its own.
Seymour seniors Chandler Clark and Emilee Pollman answered the East attack throughout the match, combining for more than two dozen kills, while junior Cecily Coffman paced the Owls on defense.
“We’ve had several girls come back from injuries, so the lineup was different, but I like what I saw,” Seymour coach Holly Birdsong said. “We’ve struggled against top teams earlier this season, but I saw the girls fight (this match) and not give up.”