No Letting Up: Olympians stay strong from start to finish in sweep of Bull Dogs

Columbus East knew coming into Thursday night’s crosstown volleyball clash that Columbus North was an improved team and would fight for every point against an Olympians team it hadn’t beaten in a regular-season match since 2002.

Aside from a Bull Dogs run midway through the second set, East never led North have the momentum. As a result, the Olympians were able to post a 25-14, 25-16, 25-18 victory.

“We came into the game having a plan to go three sets, and that was it,” Foster said.”I think we came out playing really well with a lot of energy. We played together, so I thought it was a really great win. This past weekend, I think we turned the corner with our season. I think that gave us a lot of momentum into this week and hopefully into the rest of the season.”

The Bull Dogs (11-13) jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the opening set. They still led 8-7 when the Olympians (13-10) scored four in a row to take the lead behind the serving of Erin Williams. North was within 14-11 when East scored five in a row, the last four with Addison Emery at the service line. Leading 20-14, the Olympians scored the final five points of the set, the last four behind the serving of Foster.

In the second set, East stretched a 7-3 lead to 12-3 with Chloe Gilley at the service line. The Olympians led 15-4 when the Bull Dogs got a sideout and eight consecutive points with Emily Stair serving, the final three coming on aces, to cut the lead to 15-13. But East outscored North 10-3 the rest of the set to close it out.

The Olympians jumped out to a 12-1 lead in the third set behind the serving of Foster and Williams. Leading 22-11, the Bull Dogs ran off five in a row behind the serving of Katelynn Mabis to cut it to 22-16. But East recovered, eventually closing the match on a kill by Maddie Cline.

“I think we’re playing our best volleyball right now,” East coach Ellyn McIntosh said. “If you would have asked me earlier in the season, I would have said it would have been a little bit closer. But this last week, we’ve really turned the corner for me, and I had lots of confidence in these girls that they would pull out a pretty big win tonight. We’re mostly healthy now, so we’re getting back to the swing of our full team right now.”

Gabby Dean recorded 13 kills and five assist blocks, and Williams had 31 assists and four aces to lead East. Cline notched 10 digs.

Also for the Olympians, Cline and Jenna Guse each pounded 11 kills. Williams tallied eight digs, Foster and Emery each had seven digs and Emery served two aces.

“I thought we played really well as a team tonight, and I honestly thought a lot of us pulled each other off the floor and had each others’ backs tonight, which was really nice,” Williams said. “Even though we had a lull there in the middle, I think we really pulled together there at the end and just all around played well. Most of the season, we weren’t playing very energetic, but I think we’ve found it somewhere in each other. We use each other to really pull through for each other.”

Karen Dutro led North with eight kills, five blocks and eight digs. Emma Burns and Reese Edwards each recorded six assists, and Emily Stair served four aces.

Also for the Bull Dogs, Logan Branstetter pounded three kills, Kennedy Horn had four blocks and Stair added six digs.

“East is a good team,” North coach Jenna Ortega said. “We know they have the talent. My girls just had to show up and play their game, and unfortunately, we just let too many mistakes happen. But we learn as we go, and hopefully, we just learn from this moving forward.”