Olympians sweep Bull Dogs on senior night

The Columbus East cheering section of students arrived at Thursday evening’s volleyball match with crosstown rival Columbus North dressed in pajamas.

The rowdies’ attire proved fitting as they watched the Olympians unleash a sleeper hold on the Bull Dogs and put them to rest in less than an hour with a 25-14, 25-16, 25-6 victory.

A quartet of East players recorded double-digit kills to help Class 4A No. 9 East improve to 16-4. North fell to 8-18.

Junior Courtney VanLiew pounded 20 kills, and senior Katie Mack hammered 19, while Kortney Thalls and Bailey Western added 14 and 11, respectively, to dominate the frontline action and keep the Bull Dogs off-balance defensively. Sophomore Kendal Williams paced the Olympians with 28 assists.

“I thought our girls played great, but regardless of the outcome, I thought the crowd was awesome,” East coach Stacie Pagnard said. “We honored both teams’ seniors, and to do it in front of our home crowd was fantastic.”

Despite the lopsided results, North battled the Olympians early in the match before fading late. Six-foot-four junior Imani Guy kept coach Caitie Greiner’s group in the hunt by slamming five kills, as well as registering five blocks.

“Imani gave us a big lift,” Griener said. “I think in Games 1 and 2 that the scores were not indicative of how well we played against East. We’ve just got to keep working on our consistency.”

Avery Wendel and Maliah Howard-Bass each added four kills for the Bull Dogs, while Mackenzie Rooks had 12 digs and Hannah McKinney notched seven assists. But it wasn’t enough to offset the Olympians, who countered with 15 digs from Mack, as well as 11 from AJ Pollert and nine from Brooke Bannister.

Western paced East with a trio of blocks, including one in the third set that pushed the hosts’ lead to 12-0 and dashed almost any hopes North might have had of a late rally.

The Olympians built a 9-4 lead in the opening set and then increased the advantage to 22-12 after Thalls drilled the ball from the middle of the front line. East closed out the opener with consecutive kills by Mack and Brooke Statler.

The Bull Dogs trailed 10-6 in the second set, but rallied to knot the contest at 15-15 behind Guy’s inside effort and key plays by Wendel and Augustina Fainguersch before East reeled off the next nine points with VanLiew and Thalls powering the attack, along with steady serving from Lauren Baugh.

Mack pounded out the game point to put the Olympians ahead 2-0 in the match and added a trio of big hits early in the third set before recording a dink late in the duel to make things 24-5.

Bannister and Seena Greiwe added strong serving performances for East, while McKinney and Wendel served well for North.