WALKERTON — Tuesday’s volleyball match at John Glenn was a race to see who would break into the conference win column first.
Culver seized the momentum early, winning the first game 25-18, but the host Lady Falcons quickly reversed the tide, jumping out to big leads in the second and third games on the way to 25-8 and 25-15 wins. The Cavaliers got back in the match midway through the fourth set, but it was a case of too little, too late, and Glenn earned its first Northern State Conference win, 18-25, 25-8, 25-15, 25-21 at home at The Aerie.
“It’s nice to finally get our first conference win,” said Glenn head volleyball coach Ashlee Fansler. “We played a tough match against New Prairie, came up short in the end. Played a tough match against Bremen last night and came up short in the end. Finally getting a conference win under our belts, we’re going to push through now, keep going.”
After a tough three-game loss to NSC foe Bremen Monday night, the Falcons got off to a rough start Tuesday. Glenn played even with Culver through the first few points, but a few bad serve receives and attacking errors cost the home team a 7-5 run, and the Cavs grabbed a 13-6 lead and never looked back on the way to a 25-18 first-set win.
The Falcons collected themselves at the break, however, rattling off five unanswered points at the start of the second game en route to a lopsided 25-8 win to even the match at a game each. They opened the third game 4-0 on the way to another quick 25-15 win and held off Culver in a third set that featured seven ties and three lead changes, and Dillynn Schleg’s final kill on a Kyler Columbia set sealed Glenn the 25-21 victory and the Falcons their first conference win.
“They were acting sluggish,” said Fansler of her team’s play in the opening game Tuesday. “We talked about moving our feet and not being statues. The second game we came out and played better.”
“We never just go out and play our own game, we usually play our competition’s game,” she continued. “We got out of it tonight, though, and came away with the win.”
“We hadn’t won a conference match, and I told the girls when we came in we had to be excited to get the momentum,” said Culver coach Amanda Minix. “I think that first game we had the momentum coming right off the bat. That second game, like I told them in the locker room, volleyball’s a momentum game. They got us five, six points there in that second set; our heads kind of dropped, and I think that’s when our momentum changed.”
The Cavaliers were right in the third game and even held tenuous one-point leads over their hosts twice, but a pair of service faults with the set knotted at 19-19 and 21-all proved backbreakers, and Culver remained winless in NSC play.
“That fourth game we came out and I think they realized we could do this still,” said Minix. “We had some good hits and some good serves, and I think we started getting our momentum back, but then it was too late there at the end. We made a couple silly mistakes, and then we kind of fell apart.”
Glenn benefitted from a balanced attack that saw nine kills apiece from Emily Schmalzried, Riley Patterson and Addie Holland, and eight kills by Schleg as Columbia passed out 30 assists. Xena Newland served up five aces, and Brittany Schmidt anchored the Glenn defense with 26 digs.
“They all did very well tonight,” Fansler said. “We had Emily Schmalzried setting at the beginning of the year, and I needed her as a hitter so we moved things around. We’re starting to finally click as a team with each of our hitters, and they all had really great nights tonight. They’re putting everything together.”
Culver was led by standout Samantha Howard’s all-around match of 12 kills, nine assists, eight digs and three aces. Ali Overmyer tallied 19 digs to pace the Cavs’ passing game, and first-year hitter Donna Zehner continued to make strides in her game with six kills on the night.
“Samantha, she’s pretty much an all-around player. Ali, she’s really been working on her defensive game because that’s where her strong point is. I told her she’s in the back row so that’s her job to get every ball up to try to make a good pass,” said Minix. “Donna, she’s starting to come around. There are still a couple things she needs to work on. Hopefully come this summer she’ll get in the gym a lot more and be able to help out a lot more next year.”
Glenn improves to 9-11 on the season with a 1-4 conference slate, and the Falcons will look to carry over some momentum from Tuesday’s win into the Bremen Tournament this weekend.
Culver slips to 6-12 an 0-4 in the NSC. The Cavs travel to Knox Thursday before hosting LaVille next Wednesday in another Northern State match before closing out conference play the following week at home versus New Prairie.
“Thursday we go to Knox, which I know is very tough, then we have LaVille the following week at home, then New Prairie is our Senior Night at home, and I know they’re tough,” said Minix. “We played LaVille over in the Triton tourney, and they beat us pretty good over there. We’re going to have to come ready to play; it’s a home game, and it’s pretty much our only chance if we’re going to get a conference win.”
• JOHN GLENN 3, CULVER 1 (18-25, 25-8, 25-15, 25-21)
Kills: Emily Schmalzried 9, Riley Patterson 9, Addie Holland 9, Dillynn Schleg 8
Aces: Xena Newland 5
Assists: Kyler Columbia 30
Digs: Brittany Schmidt 26
Kills: Samantha Howard 12, Donna Zehner 6
Aces: Howard 3
Assists: Howard 9, Clare Hartman 4
Digs: Ali Overmyer 19, Alex Baker 8, Howard 8
Records: Glenn 9-11 (1-4 NSC), Culver 6-12 (0-4 NSC)